US Climate and Health Alliance

Cooling the Planet, Clearing the Air: Climate Policy, Carbon Pricing, and Co-Benefits


Policies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions can yield substantial co-benefits via reduced emissions of co-pollutants such as particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and air toxics. Valuation studies suggest that these benefits may be comparable in magnitude to the value of reduced carbon emissions. However, co-pollutant intensity (the ratio of co-benefits to carbon dioxide emissions) varies across pollution sources, and so efficient policy design would seek greater emissions reductions where co-benefits are higher. Moreover, because co-pollutant impacts are localized, the distribution of co-benefits raises important issues of equity, particuarly with regard to the unintentional income, racial, and geographic disparities that might result from carbon-charge programs, whether they are trading or fee approaches. This paper presents evidence on intersectoral and spatial variations in co-pollutant intensity and discusses options for integrating co-benefits into climate policy to advance the goals of efficiency and equity.

Resource Type
James K. Boyce Manuel Pastor
Resource URL
Short Title
Cooling the Planet, Clearing the Air
Economics for Equity and the Environment Network
Organization Type
Climate and Environmental Impact
Air pollution
Emission Source
Market mechanisms
Climate and environmental justice/health equity Co-benefits/co-harms

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