Climate mitigation can bring air quality and health co-benefits. How these health impacts might be distributed across countries remains unclear. Here we use a coupled climate–energy–health model to assess the country-varying health effects of a global carbon price across nearly 30,000 future states of the world (SOWs). As a carbon price lowers fossil fuel use, our analysis suggests consistent reductions in ambient fine particulate matter (PM2.5) levels and associated mortality risks in countries that currently suffer most from air pollution. For a few less-polluted countries, however, a carbon price can increase the mortality risks under some of the considered SOWs due to emissions increases from bioenergy use and land-use changes. These potential health co-harms are largely driven in our model by the scale and method of deforestation. A robust and quantitative understanding of these distributional outcomes requires improved representations of relevant deep uncertainties, country-specific characteristics and cross-sector interactions.
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The dataset generated during and analysed in the current study is available from a public Zenodo repository (https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.6975580). All input data are available in the repository. The output of the GCAM ensemble is not available due to limited space, but the required outputs for the analysis and the production of the tables and the figures in this study are available in the repository.
The GCAM model is available for download from https://github.com/JGCRI/gcam-core. Detailed model documentation is available online at http://jgcri.github.io/gcam-doc/index.html. The TM5-FASST model is available at http://tm5-fasst.jrc.ec.europa.eu/. Python (v3.6) and R(v3.6) are used for data analysis. The codes we use to process the data, calculate the health impacts and make the plots are available from a public Zenodo repository (https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.7894050).
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X.H., V.S. and W.P. acknowledge the support from the National Science Foundation under grant number 2125293. We also thank the seed grant support from Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment and Institute for Computational and Data Sciences. K.K.’s contribution was supported by Dartmouth College. We thank E. Mayfield, L. Lynd, S. Wishbone and J. Shiwang for invaluable inputs. All errors and opinions are those of the authors and not of the funding entities.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Huang, X., Srikrishnan, V., Lamontagne, J. et al. Effects of global climate mitigation on regional air quality and health. Nat Sustain 6, 1054–1066 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-023-01133-5
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