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A new study commissioned by the British government’s climate advisors, suggests that by meeting planned carbon targets of cutting emissions in half by 2025, the country could save £85 billion ($139 billion) a year.
The report was actually put together by Ricardo AEA, an environmental consultancy, and stated that by moving the economy away from fossil fuels and increasing energy efficiency, the country would experience the benefits of; reduced emissions, improved air quality, lower human health costs, lower energy bills, noise reduction, wildlife benefits, better quality water, less waste, less traffic congestion, and fewer road accidents.
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Perhaps rather surprisingly some of the largest benefits would be experienced if people began to walk and cycle rather than using a car, and by swapping traditional cars for electric of hybrid versions. The study calculated that walking and cycling would increase the health of the population, saving £2.3 billion a year in medical bills. The reduced traffic on the road would create savings of £8.4 billion, and an overall reduction in noise pollution would save an extra £1 billion.
“The significant co-benefit of avoided congestion costs should provide a further impetus for policy-makers to focus on promoting smarter transport choices, and should justify higher levels of investment in these options. These benefits can be maximised by focusing support measures (such as construction of safe cycle paths) in highly congested areas. It is likely that this would also maximise the opportunity to reduce accident risks.”
Other significant benefits would be felt by improving the efficiency of homes. By adding extra insulation and installing double glazing, homes would require less energy to heat them each year, saving an estimated several billion pounds a year.
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It is hoped that the report, which helps to explain exactly where the benefits are, even some of the long-term, less obvious ones, will encourage people to show more support. “The benefits [of decarbonising], such as air quality improvements, are often immediate and local, whereas climate benefits may occur on longer timesclales and mainly in a distant region, as well as being harder to demonstrate. Dissemination of the benefits could therefore strengthen public support for climate policy.”
Whilst the report only focuses on the savings, it doesn’t fail to acknowledge that there are also many costs associated with the switch to fossil fuels, such as; visual pollution of huge solar and wind farms stretching across the countryside, increased waste generation of carbon capture and storage, the risks associated with increased nuclear power, and the cost of generating extra electricity to cover the demand need to fuel electric cars.
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com