Temporal and spatial distribution of health, labor, and crop benefits of climate change mitigation in the United States.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Societal benefits from climate change mitigation accrue via multiple pathways. We examine the US impacts of emission changes on several factors that are affected by both climate and air quality responses. Nationwide benefits through midcentury stem primarily from air quality improvements, which are realized rapidly, and include human health, labor productivity, and crop yield benefits. Benefits from reduced heat exposure become large around 2060, thereafter often dominating over those from improved air quality. Monetized benefits are in the tens of trillions of dollars for avoided deaths and tens of billions for labor productivity and crop yield increases and reduced hospital expenditures. Total monetized benefits this century are dominated by health and are much larger than in previous analyses due to improved understanding of the human health impacts of exposure to both heat and air pollution. Benefit-cost ratios are therefore much larger than in prior studies, especially those that neglected clean air benefits. Specifically, benefits from clean air exceed costs in the first decade, whereas benefits from climate alone exceed costs in the latter half of the century. Furthermore, monetized US benefits largely stem from US emissions reductions. Increased emphasis on the localized, near-term air quality-related impacts would better align policies with societal benefits and, by reducing the mismatch between perception of climate as a risk distant in space and time and the need for rapid action to mitigate long-term climate change, might help increase acceptance of mitigation policies.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Shindell, D; Ru, M; Zhang, Y; Seltzer, K; Faluvegi, G; Nazarenko, L; Schmidt, GA; Parsons, L; Challapalli, A; Yang, L; Glick, A

Published Date

  • November 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 118 / 46

Start / End Page

  • e2104061118 -

PubMed ID

  • 34725255

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8609628

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1091-6490

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0027-8424

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1073/pnas.2104061118


  • eng