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Author Notes:

Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to N.S. (email: Scovronick@emory.edu)

These authors contributed equally: Noah Scovronick, Mark Budolfson, Francis Dennig, Frank Errickson, Fabian Wagner.

M.B., F.D., F.E., M.F., W.P., N.S., R.H.S., D.S., and F.W. helped design the research, interpret results, and edit the manuscript.

M.B. and F.D. led the economic modeling.

F.D., F.E., and F.W. led model development.

N.S. led health impact modeling.

F.W. led emission and climate modeling.

N.S. and M.B. prepared the manuscript.

We thank Ciara Burnham and the Climate Future’s Initiative at Princeton University for support.

The authors declare no competing interests.


Research Funding:

M.B. was also supported by a Catalyst Award from the Gund Institute for Environment at the University of Vermont.


  • Science & Technology
  • Multidisciplinary Sciences
  • Science & Technology - Other Topics

The impact of human health co-benefits on evaluations of global climate policy

Journal Title:

Nature Communications


Volume 10, Number 1


, Pages 2095-2095

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


The health co-benefits of CO 2 mitigation can provide a strong incentive for climate policy through reductions in air pollutant emissions that occur when targeting shared sources. However, reducing air pollutant emissions may also have an important co-harm, as the aerosols they form produce net cooling overall. Nevertheless, aerosol impacts have not been fully incorporated into cost-benefit modeling that estimates how much the world should optimally mitigate. Here we find that when both co-benefits and co-harms are taken fully into account, optimal climate policy results in immediate net benefits globally, overturning previous findings from cost-benefit models that omit these effects. The global health benefits from climate policy could reach trillions of dollars annually, but will importantly depend on the air quality policies that nations adopt independently of climate change. Depending on how society values better health, economically optimal levels of mitigation may be consistent with a target of 2 °C or lower.

Copyright information:

© 2019, The Author(s).

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
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