Climate Change and Air Quality
- How does climate change impact air quality?
- What are the air quality benefits of reducing climate change mitigation?
Air pollution is directly influenced by changes in weather, such as heat waves or droughts. Changes in weather that might result from climate change, such as warmer temperatures and more frequent episodes of stagnant air may also worsen air quality and the accompanying public health impacts that would result. Learn more about the climate impacts on human health due to reduced air quality.
Information about estimating the costs, benefits, and economic impacts of air quality improvements is available from EPA's Air Benefits and Costs Group and in the Report to Congress on the Benefits and Costs of the Clean Air Act. More details on assessing the air quality benefits of clean energy initiatives are available in Chapter 4 of Assessing the Multiple Benefits of Clean Energy: A Resource for States.
Because of climate change and air quality being closely linked, the National Academy of Sciences recommends that air pollution and climate change policies be developed through an integrated approach, as discussed in Air Quality Management in the United States Exit. Many strategies that are used to reduce greenhouse gases will also reduce air emissions that contribute to multiple air quality concerns such as ozone and particle pollution, toxic air pollutants, atmospheric deposition, and visibility. These kinds of approaches are "win-win," providing benefits for both air quality and climate change mitigation simultaneously.
Specifically, clean energy offers a cost-effective way to meet demand for electricity while reducing emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases, improving public health, lowering energy costs, and improving the reliability and security of the energy system.
Energy efficiency can reduce electricity consumption, and renewable energy can supply energy from non- or less-polluting sources, resulting in fewer air emissions from electric generating power plants and improved air quality.
EPA offers detailed information and resources on clean energy opportunities for local decision makers, including:
- Energy efficiency
- Renewable energy
- Local Climate Action Framework
- Promote Green Government Operations
Assessing the Multiple Benefits of Clean Energy
Assessing the Multiple Benefits of Clean Energy: A Resource for States provides an overview of the multiple benefits of clean energy and their importance. It includes information on:
- The importance of and approaches to calculating or estimating energy savings as the foundation for deriving multiple benefits
- A range of tools and approaches to estimating energy systems, environmental, and economic benefits across varying levels of rigor
- How states have supported the use of clean energy through the estimation of multiple benefits
Clean Energy Options for High Electric Demand Days
Clean Energy Options for Addressing High Electric Demand Days summarizes best practices for cross-cutting policies that promote the adoption of clean energy technologies that can reduce the air emissions from electric generators in High Electric Demand Days. The report provides detailed information on targeted policies and programs that promote energy efficiency, demand response, and clean DG technologies that could be employed to deliver significant reductions in air emissions, especially NOx, from electric generators on high electric demand days.
State Implementation Plan (SIP) Credits for Emission Reductions
Guidance on SIP Credits for Emission Reductions from Electric-Sector Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Measures can help states in quantifying and including emission reductions from energy efficiency and renewable energy measures in State Implementation Plans. The guide describes four primary steps that states should take:
- Estimate energy savings or the amount of energy generation that will be displaced by the new generator.
- Convert the energy impacts of a project or initiative into an estimated emissions reduction.
- Determine the impacts on air quality from estimated emission reductions.
- Provide a mechanism to validate or evaluate the effectiveness of the project or measure.
Output-Based Environmental Regulations
Public Health Benefits of Reducing Air Pollution
In Public Health Benefits of Reducing Ground Level Ozone & Fine Particle Matter in the NorthEast U.S. Exit, the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM) examines the public health and monetary benefits of several potential emission control programs, which include an electric generating unit control strategy for nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide.
State and Local Climate and Energy Webinars
EPA’s State and Local Climate and Energy Program periodically hosts webinars that explore analytical questions and key issues surrounding state and local climate change and clean energy efforts. Each webinar is a facilitated discussion among state and local energy and environmental officials, featuring expert presentations, and question and answer opportunities. Explore the archives or register for upcoming webinars.
Co-Benefits Risk Assessment (COBRA) Screening Model
COBRA is a screening tool that enables users to:
- Roughly estimate the impact of emission changes on ambient air pollution
- Further translate this into health effect impacts
- Monetize the value of those impacts
View the estimated county-level results in tables and maps
Emissions & Generation Resource Integrated Database (eGRID)
eGRID contains a comprehensive inventory of environmental attributes of electric power systems including air emissions data for nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, and mercury.
Environmental Benefits Mapping and Analysis Program – Community Edition (BenMAP-CE)
BenMAP is an open-source tool that calculates the number and economic value of air pollution-related deaths and illnesses. The software incorporates a database that includes many of the concentration-response relationships, population files, and health and economic data needed to quantify these impacts.
Reduced-Form Tools for Calculating (PM) 2.5 Benefits
EPA's tools for calculating PM2.5 benefits allow users to quickly estimate the monetized health benefits of changes in direct or precursor PM2.5 emissions.