Just another reminder that we should be doing something NOW, even if there is no global warming, and even if it's not anthropogenic:
Health budgets would benefit from ambitious climate change goals
An ambitious climate change policy would bring European Union governments major public health and financial benefits, says new research published on 14 September.
By aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30%, the 27 member EU would make annual health savings of up to €30.5bn (₤25.3bn; $38.8bn) by 2020 in addition to the €52bn health gains that are expected from the existing 20% reduction target.
The forecasts come as European environment ministers prepare to finalise the EU’s negotiating position in mid-October for the next stage of the global climate talks in Cancún, Mexico, in December.
The report, commissioned by the Health and Environment Alliance, a network of groups across Europe, and another non-governmental organisation, Health Care Without Harm Europe, gives a breakdown of projected health savings by country from an extra 10% reduction in greenhouse gases. The biggest beneficiary would be Germany (€8.1bn). Poland, France and Italy would also make major savings, while the UK would benefit by €0.9bn.
Génon Jensen, executive director of the alliance, said, “This study provides conclusive evidence that cleaner energy and cleaner air, associated with an immediate move to 30% domestic cuts in greenhouse gases by 2020, would go a long way to paying for itself in better health in Europe.”
The findings go further than recent figures from the European Commission, which calculated health benefits on the basis of increased mortality from exposure to air pollution alone, by taking into account the costs of ill health as well as of deaths. These costs include hospital, consultation, and medication expenditure and restricted activity because of heart and lung conditions.
The report points out that its estimates may be “only the tip of the iceberg” of the real health benefits that ambitious tackling of climate change could bring, because, as greenhouse gas emissions fall, so too do other air pollutants. These side effects, or co-benefits, are in addition to the health gains from reducing phenomena associated with climate change such as heatwaves, flooding, and the spread of infectious diseases.
Anja Leetz, executive director of Health Care Without Harm Europe, pointed out that the findings show that action now would mean 140 000 fewer consultations for asthma and respiratory conditions each year by 2020 and thousands fewer admissions to hospital for cardiac and respiratory problems.
The two groups note that the extra €30.5bn savings that would result from a 30% greenhouse gas reduction policy would go a long way towards covering the annual €46bn price tag the European Commission has placed on the higher target."