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EPA Quantifies Benefits of Tackling Climate Change

EPA warns slowing climate change will require action on global scale. Credit: EPA.
EPA warns slowing climate change will require action on global scale. Credit: EPA.
June 25, 2015

HOUSTON – A new report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) compares health and economic outcomes based on whether the world moves forward to take action to confront climate change – or doesn't.

According to the EPA document, hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of lives are at stake. The study projects reining in emissions from fossil fuels could prevent some 13,000 deaths every year in the U.S. by 2050, and 57,000 deaths by the end of the century.

Andrew Dobbs, program director with Texas Campaign for the Environment, says the report underlines the urgency of taking action.

"We're already dealing with the cost of climate change," he says. "We have a historic drought followed by historic floods. If we don't act now to stabilize our climate it's going to get a lot worse. And now we have the data to prove exactly how much we have to lose."

Energy groups have been dismissive of the study, and say even if the report's assumptions about global warming are accurate, humans will still need fossil fuels. They claim renewables can't fill the growing demand for energy, and that Texans don't want to return to a time "without air conditioning."

The EPA report projects that if CO2 levels are not reduced, damage from rising sea levels and storm surges could cost $5 trillion. But if warming is held to just two degrees Celsius, that number drops to less than $1 billion. The report also found that by mitigating climate change, the U.S. could save up to $7 billion in road maintenance.

Dobbs says choosing not to act would also impact water quality, particularly in the Southwest and parts of Texas.

"You can't create jobs underwater, and you can't grow an economy without drinking water," he says. "This report makes it clear that not only do we need to change, but that change is going to be a huge boost for our economy."

The report warns stopping or even slowing climate change will require action on a global scale.

The study is the result of an EPA-led collaboration between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Pacific Northwest National Lab, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and other partners.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - TX