Today's guest post is by Sarah Spengeman, deputy director of communications at Energy Innovation, and Surili Patel, director of APHA's Center for Climate, Health and Equity. This is an excerpt from their October 21 post on Energy Innovation's Clean Energy blog. Please visit to read more.

The vast majority of the pollution that damages human health is produced by burning fossil fuels to power our homes, cars and businesses. But it doesn’t have to be this way. The newest version of the Energy Policy Simulator, or EPS, finds a set of clean energy policies that achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 would save more than 45,000 lives while preventing 1.3 million asthma attacks, more than 25,000 hospital admissions, and almost 4.5 million lost workdays every year by 2050.

When we switch to clean sources of energy, we save lives, avoid hospital visits and improve our quality of life. It’s that simple. The EPS online modeling tool estimates environmental, economic and health impacts of dozens of climate and energy policies spanning every economic sector. It’s free and open to everyone – all you need is a web browser – and is based on objective, publicly available data. The EPS can produce clear cost and emissions figures, along with visually compelling, interactive and easily shared graphics.

The latest EPS version provides a powerful tool for communicating clean energy and climate policy’s tremendous health benefits. The model shows how a wide range of policies affect greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants including nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx), and particulate matter (PM 2.5/PM 10) – three of the most damaging pollutants for human health. The EPS models how climate and energy policies cut these pollutants and shows associated reductions in deaths and morbidity.

The EPS has long allowed users to simulate the interactions of climate policies on emissions, costs, savings, along with avoided monetary climate damages and avoided premature mortality. The updated model now also incorporates U.S. Environmental Protection Administration data to demonstrate impacts on 10 additional health outcomes – revealing how ambitious and achievable climate and clean energy policies saves thousands of lives while preventing asthma and heart attacks, respiratory symptoms, hospitalizations, lost workdays and more.

Users can model policy packages or explore health impacts of a single policy, such as a clean energy standard or an electric vehicle sales mandate. One key EPS feature is the ability to see interactions among policy choices. For example, improving industrial energy efficiency 10 percent saves 1,756 lives annually by 2050, while early retirement of 750 megawatts’ coal-fired power plants saves 2,895 lives annually by 2050.

But enacting these policies together saves 3,751 lives annually by 2050, 900 fewer lives than the sum of enacting the two policies individually (4,651 lives/yr). This is because decarbonizing the electric grid means reducing electricity consumption via efficiency measures saves fewer lives than if the electric grid retains fossil fuels.

In addition to demonstrating how climate and clean energy policies reduce morbidity associated with air pollution, the new update also provides impacts on gross domestic product (GDP), jobs and wages. The net zero-scenario referenced above, for example, adds roughly 4 million jobs in the 2040s and increases GDP roughly 3 percent, both driven by additional spending.

Spending is directly increased by purchasing cleaner and more efficient equipment, but the largest increase comes from households and businesses buying goods and services with money saved from lower energy bills. The EPS shows that strong climate policies protect health and support a livable planet, but also create millions of jobs that provide financial security for families. Financial security, in turn, is an important social determinant of physical and mental health.

Most people are moved from concern to political action by the belief that climate change has a real and sizeable impact on their lives and their loved ones. The increasing frequency and severity of hurricanes in the Southeast and wildfires along the West Coast make it clearer than ever that climate change is not a distant threat: It is impacting American residents today.

Advocates who want results must communicate this reality to policymakers and to those they aim to mobilize, while demonstrating the immediate benefits of climate solutions for health, jobs and overall quality of life. The EPS provides that capability.