Quantifying the reductions in mortality from air-pollution by cancelling new coal power plants
Deep decarbonization paths to the 1.5°C or 2°C temperature stabilization futures require a rapid reduction in coal-fired power plants, but many countries are continuing to build new ones. Coal-fired plants are also a major contributor to air pollution related health impacts. Here, we couple an integrated human-earth system model (GCAM) with an air quality model (TM5-FASST) to examine regional health co-benefits from cancelling new coal-fired plants worldwide. Our analysis considers the evolution of pollutants control based on coal plants vintage and regional policies. We find that cancelling all new proposed projects would decrease air pollution related premature mortality between 101,388-213,205 deaths (2-5%) in 2030, and 213,414-373,054 (5-8%) in 2050, globally, but heavily concentrated in developing Asia. These health co-benefits are comparable in magnitude to the values obtained by implementing the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Furthermore, we estimate that strengthening the climate target from 2°C to 1.5°C would avoid 326,351 additional mortalities in 2030, of which 251,011 (75%) are attributable to the incremental coal plant shutdown.