Massachusetts Campaign for a Clean Energy Future
Ph: (617) 513-1080
Climate Action Business Association
Ph: (551) 482-5127
Embargoed for Release until Thursday, April 27, 2017
Harvard/BU Study Finds Nearly $3 Billion in Health Benefits from
Putting a Price on Carbon Pollution in Massachusetts
Boston, Mass. (April 27, 2017) – A new Harvard/BU study has found that carbon pricing legislation pending in the Massachusetts legislature would result in nearly $3 billion in cumulative health benefits, with reductions in hospitalizations and deaths from respiratory and cardiovascular disease and other improvements in health outcomes.
This is the first study to document state-level health benefits resulting from state-level carbon pollution pricing.
“We have made a lot of progress in improving air quality in the last decades, but there is still more to do,” said Jonathan Buonocore, Sc.D. Lead Author of the study and Program Leader, Climate, Energy and Health, at the Center for Health and the Global Environment, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. “What this study shows is that fees on carbon emissions can be an effective way to improve air quality while reducing the threat of climate change. These benefits are one reason climate change mitigation has been called ‘the greatest public health opportunity of the 21st century.’”
The study – “Air Quality and Health Co-Benefits of a Carbon Fee-and-Rebate Bill in Massachusetts” – will be presented at The Boston Foundation on Thursday morning, April 27, by Dr. Buonocore, who also will be available for questions.
Also speaking at The Boston Foundation event will be the sponsors of two carbon pricing bills:
- Senator Michael Barrett (D-Lexington), sponsor of S.1821, An Act Combating Climate Change, and Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications Utilities and Energy (TUE).
- Representative Jennifer Benson (D-Lunenburg), sponsor of H.1726, An Act to Promote Green Infrastructure, Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and Create Jobs, and Chair, Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure
The two bills together have 80 co-sponsors – 40 percent of the legislature – and both have been referred to the TUE Committee.
Senator Mike Barrett: “Putting a price on carbon is about averting drastic environmental effects; it’s also about avoiding health impacts that hit our kids and grandkids. This policy allows us to do both.”
Representative Jennifer Benson: “Reducing the use of fossil fuels is not only vital to halting climate change, but also to improving the health and quality of life of the people of Massachusetts. I am encouraged by the results of the Harvard study, and not surprised that it found that carbon pricing policies would have significant, positive benefits to public health in the form of lives protected, hospitalizations avoided, and billions of dollars in health costs saved.”
Cindy Luppi, Coordinator of the carbon pricing campaign coalition – known as the Massachusetts Campaign for a Clean Energy Future – and New England director for Clean Water Action: “There is a vast literature that documents the health benefits of pollution reduction, but this study adds to our understanding by showing the significant health benefits that carbon pollution pricing can help us achieve. Previous studies have shown that a carbon pricing policy – successful in other places such as British Columbia – can provide the biggest bang for our buck in meeting the legal mandates to reduce our global warming emissions. Now we know it also can help us meet our public health goals.”
David S. Miller, PhD, Founder, Clean Energy Venture Group and New England Chapter Director, Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2): “From prior studies, we’ve already seen that carbon pricing will lead to more jobs and growth in the state. Now this new report shows there are also large health savings. The economic benefits to Massachusetts investors and businesses are clear. Let’s keep our energy dollars at home while cementing our position as a clean energy leader and keeping our citizens healthy.”
Michael Green, Executive Director of the Climate Action Business Association: “Most businesses already appreciate the operational costs we are facing from the effects of climate change. This study shows that a single policy – putting a price on carbon pollution – not only can help us reduce those costs but also reduce health costs and contribute to a healthy workforce and healthy communities.”
Craig Altemose, Executive Director Better Future Project and Senior Advisor, 350MA: “This study puts a concrete number on something that is truly invaluable – the health of Commonwealth communities and Commonwealth citizens. A price on carbon is good for our health, good for our climate, and good for our economy.”
Launa Zimmaro, Energy and Environment Specialist, League of Women Voters of Massachusetts: “The League of Women Voters has supported legislation that seeks to protect our country from the public health effects of climate change for decades. Our health is priceless, but this report spells out the enormous cost to our health and society resulting from pollution, and how putting a price on carbon emissions will significantly improve air quality to ensure a healthy future.”
Carol Oldham, Executive Director, Massachusetts Climate Action Network (CAN): “As this report shows, cutting carbon pollution is not only good for our cities and towns, it is good for our health. Climate change solutions make our communities better while making our air and water cleaner, and we need to move forward with these solutions and good policies now.”
Vince Maraventano, Executive Director, Massachusetts Interfaith Power & Light: “This study provides clear evidence that carbon pricing will save lives and keep people out of the hospital. Our moral responsibility to address climate change and air pollution includes protecting those most vulnerable to asthma & lung disease, the young, the old and those in poor health.”
Authors of the study
- Jonathan J. Buonocore, Sc.D., Program Leader, Climate, Energy and Health, Center for Health and the Global Environment, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health
- Renzo R. Guinto, M.D. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
- Jonathan I. Levy, Sc.D., Associate Chair of Environmental Health, Department of Environmental Health, Boston University School of Public Health
- Scott Nystrom, M.A., FTI Consulting, Regional Economic Models, Inc.
- Chris Brown, B.A. Regional Economic Models, Inc.
- Aaron S. Bernstein, M.D. MPH. Boston Children’s Hospital. Associate Director and Program Director, Climate, Energy, and Health, Center for Health and the Global Environment, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Provisions of Massachusetts Carbon Pollution Pricing Legislation
Both bills would charge fees on fossil fuels when they enter the state, creating incentives to use less of them. These revenues would go into a special dedicated fund, and most or all of the money would be passed on to households and employers to help offset any increased costs and to invest in clean energy and energy efficiency.
Senator Barrett’s bill would return 100 percent of the revenues. All residents would get an equal rebate, and employers would receive rebates based on their number of employees. Because there would be no connection between how much a person pays in fees and the size of the rebate, there would be a strong incentive to use less fossil fuel in order to keep more of that money. This bill would protect most seniors and low- and moderate-income households because they generally use less energy than those who are wealthier and as a result, as several economic studies have shown, their rebates would likely exceed any increased costs they paid.
Representative Benson’s bill would return 80 percent of the revenues to residents and employers, and then use the remaining 20 percent for a Green Infrastructure Fund that would award grants to cities, towns, and regional agencies. The money would fund investments in clean energy, public transit, and climate change adaptation initiatives.
The Boston Foundation Event Co-Sponsors
Climate Action Now
Environmental League of Massachusetts
Health Care Without Harm
Massachusetts Campaign for a Clean
Massachusetts Interfaith Power & Light
The study was funded by The Merck Family Fund as part of its ongoing funding of the carbon pricing campaign, Clean Water Fund, and by generous individual contributors.