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March 30, 2017

Gutting the Clean Power Plan Will Bring Ill Health to Americans, and the World

(March 30th, 2017, New York, USA) – Vital Strategies has responded to President Trump’s dangerous decision to reverse several federal measures to combat climate change and protect Americans from climate impacts.  Most damaging is his order to rewrite and effectively void the Clean Power Plan –a policy aimed at reducing US emissions from fossil fuels, especially coal. This move dismisses worldwide scientific consensus around the causes and consequences of climate change, ignores the direct benefits to public health in the US from cleaner air, and undermines the Paris Agreement, an international agreement signed by 197 countries in late 2016 that is intended to spur national government commitments to reduce emissions in the immediate future.

The United States’ leadership role in the Paris Agreement is important in ensuring that the world’s other leading emitters of greenhouse gasses, such as China and India, follow through on commitments to the help reduce global carbon emissions. Dismantling the Clean Power Plan signals that the U.S. federal government will not honor its own commitments and weakens our influence. Another consequence of the President’s action is more polluted air at home and harms to the health of millions of Americans living downwind from coal fired power plants.

José Luis Castro, President and CEO of Vital Strategies, said:

“Gutting the Clean Power Plan means more Americans exposed to the real and present danger of increased air pollution. The cumulative health impacts through 2030 are staggering: the President’s actions will mean more than 3,000 more annual deaths and 1,700 heart attacks, as well as approximately 90,000 asthma attacks in children, and 300,000 missed work and school days.

“The direct near-term harm to public health in the US is just the beginning. The potential harm to global health stemming from worsening air pollution and climate change is also enormous. President Trump’s dismantling of the Clean Power Plan abdicates U.S. leadership on this critical issue when it is most needed, just as many countries are finally taking significant steps to reduce the sources of harmful air pollution.

“Other countries must fill the leadership gap. Vital Strategies calls upon world leaders and the environmental and public health communities to continue their work to reduce harmful air emissions. They can do so by honoring the Paris Agreement, applying diplomatic pressure on the United States to revise its risky plan to dismantle protections on clean air, and promoting clean air policies in their own countries to fill this leadership vacuum.

“Local action is also important. We laud the actions of many strong leaders in US states and in cities around the world who are redoubling efforts to reduce carbon emissions and protect their populations.  If the United States relinquishes its role in reducing the effects of air pollution and climate change, others must take up the responsibility. If not, the entire world will suffer the consequences.”

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that seeks to accelerate progress on the world’s most pressing health problems. Our team combines evidence-based strategies with innovation to help develop and implement sound public health policies, manage programs efficiently, strengthen data systems, conduct research, and design strategic communication campaigns for policy and behavior change. To find out more, please visit www.vitalstrategies.org or Twitter @VitalStrat.

For further information or to arrange an interview with a Vital Strategies public and environmental health expert, please contact Tracey Johnston, Vital Strategies, at +44.7889.081.170 or tjohnston@vitalstrategies.org

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