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Carbon Limits Could Save 175,000 Lives By 2030

Feb 24, 2016 02:22 PM EST

What kind of result could we see if we succeed in limiting carbon emissions--so that temperature rise only occurs at two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2030, as 195 nations agreed to do at the Paris climate talks in December? A life-saver, says a new study. 

That is, in the United States, doing so might prevent quite a number of premature deaths -- numbering up to 175,000 by 2030. That could represent health savings of about $250 billion a year, too, according to a new study led by Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

"Many people view climate change as a future problem, but our analysis shows that reducing emissions that cause warming -- many of which also contribute to air pollution -- would benefit public health here and now," Drew T. Shindell at Duke said in a release.

All in all, reducing U.S. emissions -- when we factor in the long-term pluses for global health -- could have benefits that are 5 to 10 times bigger than the costs estimated for delivering necessary technologies or policies, as Shindell noted in the release.

The study findings were published recently in the journal Nature Climate Change.

The researchers' analysis involved putting together scenarios that would reduce emissions in two main sectors, transportation and energy -- these are the largest producers of climate pollutants in the U.S. Then they did models to examine climate impacts and benefits to human health if each sector's emissions were limited enough to reach or stay under the 2-degree C ceiling by 2030.

"This is doable," said Shindell in the release. "But it's not going to be easy. Barriers remain, and short-term setbacks are likely. Pledging to reduce our emissions is one thing; implementing the national policies and binding international agreements needed to overcome these obstacles will be challenging."

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

-Follow Catherine on Twitter @TreesWhales

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