The health opportunity of more ambitious climate policies is the focus of our study, recently published in the Lancet Planetary Health. We take nine globally and regionally influential countries and model the potential health gains they could achieve if they had climate policies that were consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Our findings suggest that the co-benefits for reducing air pollution, improving diets and encouraging a more active lifestyle would save millions of lives across the world every year.
There are numerous ways in which efforts to tackle climate change can have a positive impact on public health. In this study, we focus on three.
First is avoided air pollution from reducing reliance on fossil fuels for energy. The WHO estimates that indoor and outdoor air pollution are together responsible for seven million deaths globally each year. And a recent study estimates that annual deaths due to emissions of fine particulate matter – known as “PM2.5” – from fossil fuel combustion could be as high as 8.7 million. Efforts to phase out fossil fuels will go a long way to reducing global deaths from air pollution.