A Biden administration plan to force the rapid uptake of renewable energy would swiftly cut planet-heating emissions and save hundreds of thousands of lives from deadly air pollution, a new report has found amid growing pressure on the White House to deliver a major blow against the climate crisis. Of the various climate policy options available to the new administration, a clean energy standard would provide the largest net benefits to the US in terms of costs as well as lives saved.
A clean energy standard would require utilities to ratchet up the amount of clean energy, such as solar and wind, they use, through a system of incentives and penalties. The Biden administration hoped to include the measure in its major infrastructure bill but it was dropped after compromise negotiations with Republicans.
President Biden has said he wants all electricity to be renewable by 2035. The new report, conducted by a consortium of researchers from Harvard University, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Syracuse University, suggests it would be the most effective tool in reaching a White House goal of 80% renewable energy use by 2030.
A clean energy standard to reach the 80% goal by the end of the decade would save an estimated 317,500 lives in the US over the next 30 years, due to a sharp reduction in air pollution from the burning of coal, oil, and gas. In 2030 alone, 9,200 premature deaths would be avoided once the emissions cut is achieved. The number of lives saved would be “immediate, widespread and substantial”, the report states.
Learn more about our @Solar_Decathlon — a collegiate competition that challenges the next generation of building professionals to design and construct high-performance, low-carbon buildings powered by renewable energy. https://t.co/9Z8WsvnNJN #STEMRising
— U.S. Department of Energy (@ENERGY) July 6, 2021
A total of $1.13tn in health savings due to cleaner air would be achieved between now and 2050, with air quality improvements most acutely felt by black people who currently face disproportionate harm from living near highways and power plants.
As a mother, I am deeply concerned about #ClimateCrisis @potus, the US government must create incentives for clean, renewable energy, EVs & decreased animal farming, and we need to put oil & gas pipelines in the past. #actnow @SenateDems @SenateGOP #NoExcuses https://t.co/qA4gvt9fDs
— Coleen Chase (@ColeenChase) July 5, 2021
Every state in the US would gain better air quality, the report found, although the greatest benefits would go to Ohio, Texas, Pennsylvania and Illinois, all states with substantial fossil fuel infrastructure.