Co-benefits of Global Greenhouse Gas Mitigation for Future Air Quality and Human Health

Speaker: Jason West, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

When: Wednesday, April 17, 2013, 3:30 p.m. Mountain Time
Location: Room 2A305, DSRC (NOAA Building), 325 Broadway, Boulder
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I will address two main themes: the use of global atmospheric models to assess human health impacts due to air pollution, and the relationships between the problems of air pollution and climate change. I will illustrate the first theme thorough our assessments of the global burden of outdoor air pollution on premature human mortality, and the contribution of past climate change to that burden. For the second theme, I will present our estimates of the radiative forcing of ozone precursor emissions from different world regions. These themes are brought together through our study of the global co-benefits of greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation. We quantify co-benefits for the first time using a global atmospheric model in future scenarios in which emissions, demographics, and climate all evolve. We also simulate two mechanisms by which reducing GHG emissions affect air quality: through reductions in co-emitted air pollutants, and by slowing climate change. We simulate future global air quality in the chemical transport model MOZART-4, for a reference scenario and a scenario with aggressive GHG controls internationally (RCP4.5). Global GHG mitigation avoids 0.5±0.2, 1.3±0.6, and 2.2±1.1 million premature deaths in 2030, 2050, and 2100. Monetized co-benefits exceed previous estimates and marginal abatement costs in 2030 and 2050. These co-benefits for air quality and human health provide strong additional motivation for transitioning to a low-carbon future.