Here’s how much money climate action could save us

June 22, 2015, 6:40 PM UTC
Inside The American Electric Power Co. Coal-Fired Power Plant
Emissions rise from the American Electric Power Co. Inc. coal-fired John E. Amos Power Plant in Winfield, West Virginia, U.S., on Thursday, July 31, 2014. Power plant coal burning by 2020 must decline by 204 million tons, or 24 percent, to meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) greenhouse gas targets announced June 2, Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analysts led by Hugh Wynne estimated in a July 23 note to clients. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photograph by Luke Sharrett — Bloomberg via Getty Images

If the United States doesn’t mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution will worsen, labor hours will decrease, and crop prices will be higher, a new report from the EPA warns.

The comprehensive survey estimates the potential economic damage from global warming, tallying up billions of dollars that could be saved through aggressive climate policies.

By surveying six sectors — health, infrastructure, electricity, water resources, agriculture and forestry, and ecosystems — the EPA report found that global warming’s associated extreme temperatures and increased incidence of natural disasters could lead to a variety of unforeseen consequences. In the health sector, the EPA estimated that more than 69,000 lives could be at risk by 2100 due to worsening air quality and extreme temperatures. Plus, more than 1.2 billion labor hours could be lost in the same period due to extreme temperatures.

The report also forecasted that mitigation efforts taken now could prevent the loss of more than a third of the U.S. oyster and scallop supplies and more than a quarter of the clam supply by 2100. The damage to resulting from water shortages could range as high as $180 billion.

The EPA report comes at a time when House Republicans are preparing to vote this week to weaken or kill the Obama administration’s limits on power plant emissions, The Hill reports.