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The value of energy efficiency as a public health and climate mitigation strategy

Panel: 6. Transport and mobility

This is a peer-reviewed paper.

Authors:
Cassandra Kubes, ACEEE, USA
Sara Hayes, ACEEE, USA

Abstract

Saving energy in buildings and making vehicles more fuel-efficient reduces the harmful pollution emitted by fossil fuel consumption. Pollution avoided by energy efficiency results in substantial improvements to public health through reduced morbidity and mortality. However, the public health benefits of energy efficiency are oftentimes underestimated or omitted when communicating the value of energy efficiency as a climate change mitigation strategy. Communicating the health benefits of energy efficiency creates an opportunity to motivate leaders to take action on climate change.

As described in a recent IPCC special report, any increase in global warming is projected to negatively affect human health. In order to achieve the levels of emission reductions required to prevent further warming, countries participating in the Paris Agreement will need reaffirm and ramp-up commitments. However, the United States continues to lag behind. The US and countries worldwide have an opportunity to mitigate climate change and realize significant health benefits by advancing energy efficiency.

Building on previous research, this paper identifies existing and proposed policies to regulate carbon in the US and compares these with examples from countries in the European Union, emphasizing strategies that incentivize energy efficiency and maximize public health gains. This paper presents findings from two analyses that model the emission reductions and associated public health gains from a combination of energy efficiency policies in the power sector and through electric vehicle adoption. These estimates underscore the magnitude of public health benefits that can be achieved by using energy efficiency and make the case for an increased commitment from the US to mitigate climate change.

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Download this paper as pdf: 6-126-19_Kubes.pdf