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Your Environment. Your Health.

U.S. air quality and health benefits from avoided climate change under greenhouse gas mitigation

Environmental Health Economic Analysis Annotated Bibliography


Research article Cost-benefit analysis (CBA)
Garcia-Menendez F, Saari RK, Monier E, and Selin NE
Environ Sci Technol
The authors evaluated the impact of climate change on U.S. air quality and health in 2050 and 2100 under three greenhouse gas (GHG) emission policy scenarios and performed a cost-benefit analysis to monetize health benefits due to reduced air pollution. When compared to a reference scenario that assumes no GHG mitigation efforts, the authors estimated the value of benefits associated with avoided mortality under one climate policy scenario at $150 billion and $1.3 trillion in 2050 and 2100 respectively; and $180 billion and $1.4 trillion (in US dollars) under a second, more stringent, policy scenario. These results suggest that increasing climate policy stringency beyond a certain degree may lead to diminishing returns relative to its cost. However, the authors conclude that air quality impacts of climate change are substantial and should be considered by cost-benefit climate policy analyses.
Not available

Health Outcomes

  • Mortality (premature deaths)

Environmental Agents

List of Environmental Agents:

  • Air pollutants (ozone (O3), particulate matter (PM2.5/fine), which includes fine particulates such as sulfate (SO4), black carbon, organic aerosol, and ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3)))

Source of Environmental Agents: (Not available)

Economic Evaluation / Methods and Source


  • Cost-benefit analysis (CBA)

Cost Measured:

  • Costs of climate policy implementation

Potential Cost Measures: (Not available)

Benefits Measures:

  • Mortalities avoided
  • years of life gained

Potential Benefits:

  • Health benefits stemming from reductions of CO emitted pollutants under greenhouse gas mitigation
  • benefits to other sectors, such as ecosystems, infrastructure, and agriculture


  • United States

Models Used:

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology Integrated Global System Model linked to the Community Atmosphere Model (MIT IGSM-CAM)
  • Community Atmosphere Model with atmospheric chemistry (CAM-Chem)
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology Emissions Predictions and Polic Analysis (EPPA) model

Methods Used:

  • The authors evaluated the impact of climate change on U.S. air quality and health in 2050 and 2100 using a global modeling framework and integrated economic, climate, and air pollution projections. The authors — 1) used earth system and human activity models to generate greenhouse gas emission and climate projections; 2) simulated atmospheric pollution under three greenhouse gas emission policy scenarios; 3) used models to simulate and analyze the climate penalty on air quality across the contiguous United States; 4) estimated change in mortality risk associated with pollutant levels in 2050 and 2100 for each policy scenario; 5) monetized reduced mortality risks using value of a statistical life and years of life saved; and 6) estimated climate policy costs as loss in GDP relative to a no-climate policy scenario in 2050 and 2100.

Sources Used:

  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Regulatory Impact Analysis for the Final Revisions to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter, Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards (2012); U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Guidelines for Preparing Economic Analyses, National Center for Environmental Economics (2014); Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2005 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2006); additional sources cited in publication

Economic Evaluation / Methods and Source


  • Garcia-Menendez F, Saari RK, Monier E, and Selin NE. 2015. U.S. air quality and health benefits from avoided climate change under greenhouse gas mitigation. Environ Sci Technol.
  • Pubmed
  • DOI

NIEHS Funding: (Not available)

Other Funding:

  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Change Division (Cooperative Agreement # XA-83600001-0)
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