Release Date: 26 Nov 2010
26 November 2010 – A low carbon economy should be good for health and the climate, say leading scientists
Statement to be released at climate change talks in Mexico later this month
Certain actions to cut greenhouse gas emissions and thus reduce climate change can also directly improve human health, according to a statement from the Inter-Academy Medical Panel (IAMP), a global network of the world's medical academies. These health benefits could partly offset the costs of tackling climate change and challenge the belief that policies to tackle climate change will invariably be socially and economically demanding. A copy of the full statement can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/iampHBCCM
IAMP urges global political leaders around the world to take account of the health benefits of such mitigation strategies ahead of their meeting next week in Cancun, Mexico.
While the effects of strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on climate change take time to become manifest and are often widely dispersed across the world, the health benefits can be realised more directly and quickly. The statement identifies several examples from published research of how actions to reduce emissions can also lead to localised improvements in health. These include:
- The introduction of 150 million low-emission cookstoves in India could prevent around 2 million premature deaths caused by exposure to household pollutants and reduce greenhouse pollutants;
- Reducing the use of private cars in cities and encouraging active travel such as cycling and walking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lower the burden of chronic disease.
Professor Looi Lai Meng, Akademi Sains Malaysia and Co-Chair of IAMP said, “Many view climate change mainly as a threat to sustainability of the environment and are less conscious of the health issues involved. Furthermore, those in the poorer countries, who are least responsible for greenhouse gas emissions, are the most vulnerable and suffer the greatest health threats. The health benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions provide an incentive to cut emissions.”
Professor Detlev Ganten, Germany, member of the IAMP Executive Committee and chair of the working group that prepared the statement said, “The endorsement of this statement by Academies from so many different countries makes an important contribution to the global discussion about how best to tackle climate change. A strong case can be made that the public health benefits of cutting greenhouse gas emissions need to be more prominent in international negotiations and domestic policymaking.”
“WHO has long argued that embracing ‘health-enhancing’ low-carbon strategies can allow policy-makers to demonstrate positive health and wealth generating results within a period of years – while averting devastating long-term impacts to the planet" said Maria Neira, WHO Director for Public Health and Environment. "I welcome the IAMP statement which shows the engagement of the health community on this critical issue."