Families outside in a park
Mountain top celebration

Air Quality and Health


Economic Benefits

Policies that reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants can also reduce emissions of harmful co-pollutants, preventing thousands of premature deaths and illnesses each year in the US.



Policies that reduce power sector emissions and improve air quality generate health and economic benefits that outweigh costs at regional and national scales. 



View of farms and forests in New England
View of Boston at night

Trees and Crops


Urban Benefits

Power plant carbon standards would improve yields of important crops including corn and soybeans as well as several tree species, by relieving plants from ozone pollution which impedes productivity.



41 million people in large US cities would gain cleaner air and health benefits if a strong carbon standard were implemented. Our team is calculating additional benefits of climate policies, and costs of inaction.



Our Idea

Accelerate Climate Action by Demonstrating the Benefits of Clean Energy

Nature Climate Change Publication
Premature deaths avoided by power plant carbon standards

The Science Policy Exchange is shifting the public discourse from a debate about the existence and impacts of climate change to a focus on the positive health, ecosystem, and economic benefits of policy action. In 2013, we brought together top scientists to estimate the co-benefits of U.S. power plant carbon standards for people and the environment. The results demonstrate that strong carbon standards can change the power sector in ways that yield substantial air quality and health benefits in communities across the U.S. The results also show that the economic value of these benefits outweighs the costs nationally and regionally.

We are bringing this approach to cities and states to motivate science-based climate policy by demonstrating what communities can gain from local action.


Our Impact

Motivating Action with Science Communication 

Science Policy Exchange research in the news
Science Policy Exchange research in the news

The Science Policy Exchange is putting our benefits research to work for smarter public policy through a strategic science impact campaign. We teamed up with policy experts, communication professionals, and graphic designers to connect science with action through outreach and communication. Through a successful outreach campaign with 30 events nationwide, SPE has earned 600+ unique news stories in mainstream media outlets, reached 50,000 twitter users, and received social media posts by members of Congress and senior White House officials under the Obama Administration.

Our work to communicate policy relevant science for climate and energy policy is an important start that we are building on by mapping and communicating the benefits of action by cities and states.



  • Yale Climate Connections
    Science Policy Exchange co-founder Kathy Fallon Lambert is quoted in an article by Yale Climate Connections about the Environmental Protection Agency's new Affordable Clean Energy rule. The new rule would hardly change emissions, with a small reduction of less than 1% beyond what would likely happen without any policy at all.
  • Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
    A science brief for journalists co-authored by Science Policy Exchange co-founders Kathy Fallon Lambert and Charley Driscoll reports that the Environmental Protection Agency is threatening to unravel federal rules that are reducing mercury pollution.
  • Washington Post
    Science Policy Exchange co-founder Kathy Fallon Lambert is quoted in an article in the Washington Post, about the Environmental Protection Agency's plan to  unravel a rule that has cut emissions of mercury and other toxins from power plants.
  • Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
    Leaders of the Science Policy Exchange Energy Transformation project published a working paper today entitled, "Carbon Standards Re-Examined: An Analysis of Potential Emissions Outcomes for the Affordable Clean Energy Rule and the Clean Power Plan."
  • Science Policy Exchange Comment
    Air quality would deteriorate in key areas of the US if the Clean Power Plan were repealed rather than implemented. Other consequences of repealing the Clean Power Plan and replacing it with a narrow "inside the fenceline" alternative include additional premature deaths and increased carbon dioxide emissions in some regions. Maps from a peer-reviewed publication illustrating areas at risk for worse air quality and health outcomes along with additional new analyses  are included in a public comment signed by 14 scientists and submitted to the US Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Science Policy Exchange Fact Sheet
    Large clean air and health co-benefits are possible with a power plant rule that includes stringent carbon dioxide emission targets, flexible compliance options, and significant program investments in end-user energy efficiency. An alternative limited to power plant upgrades provides few co-benefits and could increase premature deaths and heart attacks in the US.
  • Science Policy Exchange Capitol Hill Briefing
    Reducing carbon pollution from power plants has the potential to limit air pollutants that cause asthma attacks and premature death. However one policy option could actually cause more conventional air pollution and premature deaths than doing nothing. Join us to hear about the impact of power plant pollution and different types of carbon standards on health and the environment, and learn the latest research on the current policy options under consideration.
  • In the News: Washington Post
    Three Science Policy Exchange collaborators are quoted in a new Washington Post article about air quality, health, and economic benefits of the Clean Power Plan.
  • Science Policy Exchange Report
    After the EPA announced its plan to repeal the Clean Power Plan, a group of 11 scientists reviewed relevant research and reported that the “inside the fence line” approach to regulating carbon dioxide emissions currently favored by the EPA would produce little to no climate and clean air benefits, and would harm human health.
  • In the News: Washington Post
    Science Policy Exchange collaborator Jonathan Buonocore is quoted in the Washington Post, in a new article by Chris Mooney. Buonocore, from the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard University, spoke about air quality and health benefits of a strong carbon standard.
  • Press Release
    A new map released today by scientists at Syracuse and Harvard Universities shows that, compared to doing nothing, replacing the Clean Power Plan with a narrower option would make air quality worse and endanger more lives, on top of the 3,500 premature deaths and $33 billion in health costs already estimated. Indiana, Ohio, and Texas are among the hardest hit states.
  • Science Policy Exchange Comment
    Six key environmental regulations improve public health by protecting clean air and clean water, and the benefits exceed costs, report 14 leading scientists who signed a public comment with detailed information about the reasons to support the six regulations. The regulations are under threat from a proposed rule to roll-back regulations.
  • Science Policy Exchange Report
    41 million people in US cities would gain cleaner air if officials uphold the nation’s commitment under the Paris Accord to cut greenhouse gas emissions from US power plants, as demonstrated by new maps released today by Syracuse University scientists and colleagues. The anticipated air quality improvements would prevent 3500 premature deaths per year nationwide and provide annual economic benefits of $50 billion. 
  • New Study: PLOS ONE
    All regions of the US are expected to gain net economic benefits within a few years of implementing flexible power plant carbon standards, according to a new study by scientists from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Syracuse University, Resources for the Future, and the Harvard Forest, Harvard University as a project of the Science Policy Exchange.
  • Science Policy Exchange Report
    Science Policy Exchange partners from Syracuse University, the Harvard School of Public Health, School of Public Health at Boston University, and the Harvard Forest teamed up on a three-part study to analyze the impact of different policy options for power plant carbon standards on clean air and public health.
  • Huffington Post

    A study released just last week by Syracuse and Harvard Universities showed that tougher limits on carbon emissions from existing power plants would lead to added health benefits associated with reducing air pollutants.