SINGAPORE – Renewables end up being much cheaper than fossil fuels when the health benefits of phasing out dirty coal are taken into consideration by policy makers.
For example, the overall health impacts of nuclear power plants are far less harmful than those of fossil fuel technologies, studies have found.
Moving to a low- or zero-emissions energy sector has many benefits, including cleaner air and fewer cases of respiratory disease and sick leave.
Such an understanding of the health benefits and risks of various emission reduction solutions will help countries prioritize their climate mitigation policies, an Australia-based healthcare coalition said in a 19-page report the week last.
The coalition, called the Climate and Health Alliance, has fleshed out the hidden health messages of a recent 3,000-page report on climate change mitigation by the United Nations’ leading scientific body on climate – the Climate Change Panel. intergovernmental experts on climate change (IPCC).
The IPCC Working Group III report, which was released last month, covered all aspects of climate change mitigation efforts and their progress so far.
“The health benefits alone far outweigh the costs of climate action,” said the alliance’s chief executive, Mr Roland Sapsford.
The climate and health messages have been written in the form of succinct summaries to show governments and policy makers that immediate climate action brings health benefits, such as reduced air pollution and heat-related illnesses, and better mental health without the trauma of experiencing extreme weather events.
Emission reduction policies are particularly effective when designed with other benefits in mind, such as health and poverty reduction, said the coalition’s report, titled Climate Action For A Healthy Future. .
For example, if cities – which produce more than 60% of global greenhouse gas emissions – were redesigned to be more walkable and greener, residents would be encouraged to become more active, reducing the risk of chronic diseases.
The report was prepared by the alliance in collaboration with its sister organization, the Global Climate and Health Alliance, and the Health and Climate Network.
Mr Sapsford cited India’s current record heatwave as an example of a deadly health risk people are already facing due to climate change.
An early and scorching summer in India this year led to the country recording its hottest March in 122 years. And in April, New Delhi had seven consecutive days with the mercury crossing 40 degrees C.
The heatwave caused heatstroke-related deaths, threatened wheat crops and aggravated the country’s energy crisis.