New Research Links Greenhouse Gas Reduction Efforts With Public Health Benefits In Low-Income And Minority Communities
PORTLAND, Ore., and WASHINGTON, Sept. 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Expanding climate change mitigation approaches beyond greenhouse gases to also target related pollutants would have enormous public health benefits in the nation’s most disadvantaged communities, according to a report released today by E3 Network and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.
The report, Cooling the Planet, Clearing the Air: Climate Policy, Carbon Pricing, and Co-Benefits, found that the same industrial facilities that emit carbon tend to generate other harmful pollutants that actually pose a more immediate and direct threat to the health of nearby residents. Adding these harmful “co-pollutants” to a climate change mitigation strategy would have an almost immediate positive health impact on the health of millions of poor and minority Americans. The research showed that the benefits would be comparable in economic value to the benefits of the carbon reduction by itself.
The peer-reviewed report is the first national level study to take such a careful look at the potential to further reduce harmful air pollution as part of any strategy to lower greenhouse gas emissions and reverse climate change.
“Current climate proposals are missing out on an opportunity to achieve considerable health and equity gains through a common-sense approach that addresses co-pollutants such as soot and nitrogen oxides. Since the burden of these co-pollutants falls disproportionately on the poor and people of color, this is one of those opportunities for equity and efficiency to come together,” said report co-author, Manuel Pastor.
Kristen Sheeran, Director of the E3 Network commented, “This report highlights often overlooked issues of environmental justice. Take for example the recent Chevron refinery explosion in Richmond, California. Not only is this refinery the single largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions in the state of California, but over 85% of the residents who live within a three-mile radius of the plant live below the federal poverty line. We see an enormous risk, but also an enormous opportunity to address pollution where it is needed most.”
The authors and Congressman James E. Clyburn (D-SC) will discuss the report this afternoon at a panel hosted by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington, DC.
Carolyn Holland, Ecotrust