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


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.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Shindell, Drew, Muye Ru, Yuqiang Zhang, Karl Seltzer, Greg Faluvegi, Larissa Nazarenko, Gavin A Schmidt, Luke Parsons, et al. (2021). Temporal and spatial distribution of health, labor, and crop benefits of climate change mitigation in the United States. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 118(46). p. e2104061118. 10.1073/pnas.2104061118 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/26185.

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Drew Todd Shindell

Nicholas Distinguished Professor of Earth Science

Drew Shindell is Nicholas Professor of Earth Science at Duke University. From 1995 to 2014 he was at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City and taught at Columbia University. He earned his Bachelor's at UC Berkeley and PhD at Stony Brook University, both in Physics. He studies climate change, air quality, and links between science and policy. He has been an author on >250 peer-reviewed publications, received awards from Scientific American, NASA, the NSF and the EPA, and is a fellow of AGU and AAAS.

He has testified on climate issues before both houses of the US Congress (at the request of both parties), developed a climate change course with the American Museum of Natural History, and made numerous media appearances as part of his outreach efforts. He chaired the 2011 UNEP/WMO Integrated Assessment of Black Carbon and Tropospheric Ozone, and was a Coordinating Lead Author on the 2013 Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC and on the 2018 IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C. He also chairs the Scientific Advisory Panel to the Climate and Clean Air Coalition of nations and organizations.



Luke Parsons


Luke Parsons is a climate researcher and lecturer. He teaches about climate change and climate impacts and studies climate dynamics, drought, and climate change + deforestation + emissions impacts on the environment, human health, well-being, and the economy. In addition to his work as a researcher, Luke is also a Wilderness First Responder and former NOLS instructor who enjoys backpacking, climbing, and taking panoramic landscape photographs.

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