Report: Health Costs from Climate Change and Fossil Fuel Pollution Tops $820 Billion a Year
Cutting U.S. climate pollution soon can avoid a wave of misery, deliver enormous health benefits and cost savings, protect vulnerable communities, and safeguard our future
WASHINGTON – The staggering, often-overlooked financial costs to our health from fossil-fuel generated air pollution and climate change surpass $820 billion in health costs each year—a burden falling heaviest on vulnerable communities but also shared in part by everyone in the United States, a new report shows.
“The science is clear: the dangerous effects of climate change—and their profound costs to our health and our pocketbooks— will worsen each year we fail to curb the pollution that is destabilizing our planet,” said Dr. Vijay Limaye, report co-author and a climate and health scientist at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council.) “We face a choice: continue down this dead-end path of inaction and soaring healthcare bills. Or make smart investments now in cost-effective solutions that will prevent millions of people in our country—especially the most vulnerable—from suffering injuries, illness, and premature death. The time to act is now.”
The report, “The Costs of Inaction: The Economic Burden of Fossil Fuels and Climate Change on Health in the United States,” synthesizes several dozen scientific research papers and is among the first to tally a broad financial toll on public health from climate-change-driven extreme weather, dangerous heat waves, spikes in air pollution and increases in vector-borne diseases.
These impacts are projected to escalate, with the potential to trigger substantial increases in harm to public health in the U.S. Correspondingly, taking bold action to cut fossil fuel use and climate pollution could yield hundreds of billions of dollars in avoided health harms, the report shows.
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