Story at a glance

  • President Biden’s goal to slash carbon emissions through a shift to renewable energy sources could save more than 300,000 lives.
  • Researchers found that a clean energy standard could also save money.
  • A measure to adopt a clean energy standard failed to make it into the last congressional budget.

President Biden’s goal to slash carbon emissions through a shift to renewable energy sources could save more than 300,000 lives.

A new report from researchers at Harvard University, Georgia Institute of Technology and Syracuse University suggests that the clean energy standard — which would force utilities to transition to clean energy — is the best way to reach the Biden administration’s goal to use 80 percent renewable energy by 2030. 

Researchers found that a clean energy standard could save both lives and money. A cost benefit analysis values a clean energy transition at approximately $637 billion through 2050. Estimated costs of the move toward renewable energy could cost $342 billion, according to the group. Meanwhile, a clean energy standard would save more than 317,000 lives and generate $1.13 trillion in health benefits. 


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A measure to adopt a clean energy standard failed to make it into the last congressional budget, but Biden’s climate advisor Gina McCarthy told Punchbowl News last week the standard will make it through budget reconciliation. 

“We need to make sure that we’re sending a signal that we want renewable energy and that it’s going to win,” McCarthy said.


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Kathy Fallon Lambert, study co-author and air quality expert at Harvard, told The Guardian that the costs to implement the plan are much lower than expected while avoidable deaths are far higher. 

“This would be a huge leap in ambition and we’d see that in the health impacts, there would be millions of fewer asthma attacks, for example. And this doesn’t even consider the health impacts from heat and other climate-related causes,” Fallon said. 

Biden set a goal at the Leaders Summit on Climate in April to reduce U.S. carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2030. The president additionally re-entered the Paris Climate Agreement, which has the expressed goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050 compared to preindustrial levels.


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Published on Jul 12, 2021