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Decarbonization will lead to more equitable air quality in California


Air quality associated public health co-benefit may emerge from climate and energy policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, the distribution of these co-benefits has not been carefully studied, despite the opportunity to tailor mitigation efforts so they achieve maximum benefits within socially and economically disadvantaged communities (DACs). Here, we quantify such health co-benefits from different long-term, low-carbon scenarios in California and their distribution in the context of social vulnerability. The magnitude and distribution of health benefits, including within impacted communities, is found to varies among scenarios which reduce economy wide GHG emissions by 80% in 2050 depending on the technology- and fuel-switching decisions in individual end-use sectors. The building electrification focused decarbonization strategy achieves ~15% greater total health benefits than the truck electrification focused strategy which uses renewable fuels to meet building demands. Conversely, the enhanced electrification of the truck sector is shown to benefit DACs more effectively. Such tradeoffs highlight the importance of considering environmental justice implications in the development of climate mitigation planning.

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