US coal plants closing down over the course of a crucial decade may have saved more than 26,000 lives, new research posits.
A study published Monday in the journal Nature Sustainability analyzes the closure of 334 coal-fired power plants between 2005 and 2016, which resulted in 300m fewer tons of CO2 emissions. It also dropped nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide levels dramatically.
Taking these plants offline saved an estimated 26,610 lives in the plant’s immediate vicinity, as well as 570 million bushels of crops like corn and wheat, which are negatively impacted by emissions.
“When you turn coal units off you see deaths go down. It’s something we can see in a tangible way,” author Jennifer Burney told The Guardian. “There is a cost to coal beyond the economics.”