WASHINGTON (AFP) - The White House said on Friday proposed US action against climate change would save thousands of lives by reducing asthma, heat-related illnesses and other health hazards.
Less than a week after President Barack Obama laid out his most ambitious moves yet to reduce carbon emissions blamed for climate change, his administration spelled out what it said was a public health argument for taking action.
A White House report estimated that action on climate change would eliminate 2,700 to 6,600 premature deaths by 2030, as well as 150,000 asthma attacks, 3,300 heart attacks and 310,000 lost work days.
"We have a moral obligation to leave our children a planet that's not irrevocably polluted or damaged. The effects of climate change are already being felt across the nation," the report said.
It said the percentage of Americans with asthma has doubled over the past three decades, partially as a result of climate change as rising temperatures increase ground-level ozone.
More than eight percent of Americans suffer from asthma with a disproportionate impact on the elderly, children and some minority groups, with Hispanic children 40 per cent more likely to die from asthma than non-Hispanic white children, the report said.
The Environmental Protection Agency said on Monday it would require states to take binding action to reduce carbon emissions from power plants by an average of 30 per cent by 2030 from 2005 levels.
Lawmakers from the rival Republican Party lashed out at the move, arguing that restrictions on the energy sector would hurt a vulnerable economy. A number of Republicans friendly to the energy industry reject the scientific consensus on climate change.