What We Can Do

Mitigating Climate Change   →   Beneficial Impacts on Health

By responding to the need to reduce emissions, we create opportunities for a range of enormously beneficial health outcomes.  

  • In the U.S., clean energy policies consistent with warming of 2°C could prevent 175,000 premature deaths by 2030, and subsequently 22,000 annually after 2030, with clean transportation contributing additional benefits.

Source: Shindell D, Lee Y, Faluvegi G. Climate and health impacts of US emissions reductions consistent with 2°C. Nat Clim Chang 2016; 6: 503–07.

  • Encouraging behavioral changes such as active travel (walking or bicycle riding), as well as reducing consumption of red and processed meat and increasing consumption of plant-based foods, leads to health benefits. Increasing median daily walking and bicycling from 4 to 22 minutes reduced the burden of cardiovascular disease and diabetes by 14%, and decreased greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE) by 14%. Low-carbon driving reduced GHGE by 33.5% and cardiorespiratory disease burden by less than 1%.

Source: Noah Scovronick, Carlos Dora, Elaine Fletcher, *Andy Haines,Drew Shindell, www.thelancet.com Vol 386 November 7, 2015.

Source:Maizlish, N., J. Woodcock, S. Co, B. Ostro, A. Fanai, and D. Fairley, 2013: Health co-benefits and transportation-related reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in the San Francisco Bay area. American Journal of Public Health, 103, 703-709, doi:10.2105/ajph.2012.300939.

  • By adopting simple retrofits to school buses, thus reducing diesel emissions, school districts experienced a 33% drop in asthma and bronchitis cases and a 40% drop in cases of pneumonia among children.  Program benefits are estimated to be between 7 and 16 times program costs.  

Source: Journal of Health Economics 30 (2011) 987-999, School buses, diesel emissions, and respiratory health”, Timothy Betty and Jay Shimshack.

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