Publication Detail

Adoption of Low-Carbon Fuels Reduces Race/Ethnicity Disparities in Air Pollution Exposure in California


Journal Article

Suggested Citation:
Li, Yiting, Anikender Kumar, Yin Li, Michael J. Kleeman (2022) Adoption of Low-Carbon Fuels Reduces Race/Ethnicity Disparities in Air Pollution Exposure in California. Science of The Total Environment

An environmental justice (EJ) analysis shows that adoption of low-carbon energy sources in the year 2050 reduces the race/ethnicity disparity in air pollution exposure in California by as much as 20% for PM2.5 mass and by as much as 40% for PM0.1 mass. An ensemble of six different energy scenarios constructed using the energy-economic optimization model CA-TIMES were evaluated in future years. Criteria pollutant emissions were developed for each energy scenario using the CA-REMARQUE model using 4 km spatial resolution over four major geographic areas in California: the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Sacramento (SFBA&SAC), the San Joaquin Valley (SJV), Los Angeles (LA), and San Diego (SD). The Weather Research & Forecasting (WRF) model was used to predict future meteorology fields by downscaling two different climate scenario (RCP4.5 and RCP8.5) generated by two different GCMs (the Community Climate System Model and the Canadian Earth Systems Model). Simulations were performed over 32 weeks randomly selected during the 10 year window from the year 2046 to 2055 to build up a long-term average in the presence of ENSO variability. The trends associated with low-carbon energy adoption were relatively stable across the ensemble of locations and scenarios. Deeper reductions in the carbon intensity of energy sources progressively reduced exposure to PM2.5 mass and PM0.1 mass for all California residents. The greater adoption of low-carbon fuels also reduced the racial disparity in the PM exposure. The three energy scenarios that achieved an ~80% reduction in GHG emissions relative to 1990 levels simultaneously produced the greatest reduction in PM exposure for all California residents and the greatest reduction in the racial disparity of that exposure. These findings suggest that the adoption of low-carbon energy can improve public health and reduce racial disparities through an improvement in air quality.

Key words: Low-carbon energy, Air pollution, Exposure disparity