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Health benefits far outweigh the costs of meeting China’s climate change goals, experts say

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Geneva, January 30 - Researchers from the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), together with experts from the World Health Organization (WHO), launched a report highlighting the substantial health gains expected from China’s national climate policies during a Special Event on Health & Climate Change in Geneva.

The report on “Health Co-benefits From NDC Implementation in China” analyzed the positive impact on air pollution of policies related to current China’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) aimed at controlling carbon emissions. Studies estimated that the improved air quality from China’s commitments could result in between 225,000–250,000 premature deaths avoided in the year 2050—as well as an economic benefit to society of between USD 18 billion to USD 700 billion from the lives saved.

“This study showcases that the phaseout of heavily polluting forms of energy, such as coal, and the reform of subsidies to fossil fuels can have direct benefits on health and climate change,” says Lourdes Sanchez, IISD expert and the main author of the report.

A more ambitious five-year workplan and updated NDC in 2020 could see further co-benefits through the prevention of premature deaths and millions in health care cost savings in China.

The authors of the report note that reforming subsidies to fossil fuels—which cost the Chinese government at least USD 44.4 billion in 2018—could unlock significant amounts of funding that could be reallocated to other development priorities such as renewable energy or health.

Global health benefits far outweigh the costs of meeting climate change goals, according to WHO experts. “The health impacts of air pollution alone cost many countries more than 4% of their GDP a year, while reaching the Paris Goals would only require an average investment of 1% of yearly GDP,” says Dr. Maria Neira, WHO Director of the Department of Public Health, Environment and Social Determinants of Health.

The 2020 Global Conference on Health and Climate Change will take place in Glasgow at the margin of COP 26. During this event, the WHO expert will present a compilation of healthy NDCs—recommendations for countries to strengthen their NDCs to the Paris Agreement by developing health-inclusive and health-promoting climate targets and policies.

Notes to editors

The report ‘“Health Co-benefits From NDC Implementation in China”’ is due to be launched during a Special Event on Health & Climate Change on the 30th of January 2020 at 3.00-5.00 pm at the International Environment House II, Geneva.

Please register here to participate in person.  
Please register to here for the remote connection.

For more information or to arrange an interview with one of the experts please contact:

WHO Arthur Wyns wynsa@who.int; IISD Paulina Resich presich@iisd.org


About the International Institute for Sustainable Development

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is an independent think tank that delivers the knowledge to act. Our mission is to promote human development and environmental sustainability. Our big-picture view allows us to address the root causes of some of the greatest challenges facing our planet today – ecological destruction, social exclusion, unfair laws and economic and social rules, a changing climate. With offices in Winnipeg, Geneva, Ottawa and Toronto, our work impacts lives in nearly 100 countries.

For more information, please contact: media@iisd.org or +1 (613) 238 2296 ext. 114