Human Health and Ecosystem Impacts of Deep Decarbonization of the Energy System

Environ Sci Technol. 2019 Dec 3;53(23):14054-14062. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.9b04923. Epub 2019 Nov 15.


Global warming mitigation strategies are likely to affect human health and biodiversity through diverse cause-effect mechanisms. To analyze these effects, we implement a methodology to link TIMES energy models with life cycle assessment using open-source software. The proposed method uses a cutoff to identify the most relevant processes. These processes have their efficiencies, fuel mixes, and emission factors updated to be consistent with the TIMES model. The use of a cutoff criterion reduces exponentially the number of connection points between models, facilitating the analysis of scenarios with a large number of technologies involved. The method is used to assess the potential effects of deploying low-carbon technologies to reduce combustion emissions in the province of Quebec (Canada). In the case of Quebec, the reduction of combustion emissions is largely achieved through electrification of energy services. Global warming mitigation efforts reduce the impact on human health and ecosystem quality, mainly because of lower global warming, water scarcity, and metal contamination impacts. The TIMES model alone underestimated the reduction of CO2eq by 21% with respect to a full account of emissions.

MeSH terms

  • Biodiversity
  • Canada
  • Ecosystem*
  • Global Warming*
  • Humans
  • Quebec