Health co-benefits and the development of climate change mitigation policies in the European Union

Annabelle Workman*, Grant Blashki, Kathryn J. Bowen, David J. Karoly, John Wiseman

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    14 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The 2015 Paris Agreement requires increasingly ambitious emissions reduction efforts from its member countries. Accounting for ancillary positive health outcomes (health co-benefits) that result from implementing climate change mitigation policies can provide Parties to the Paris Agreement with a sound rationale for introducing stronger mitigation strategies. Despite this recognition, a knowledge gap exists on the role of health co-benefits in the development of climate change mitigation policies. To address this gap, the case study presented here investigates the role of health co-benefits in the development of European Union (EU) climate change mitigation policies through analysis and consideration of semi-structured interview data, government documents, journal articles and media releases. We find that while health co-benefits are an explicit consideration in the development of EU climate change mitigation policies, their influence on final policy outcomes has been limited. Our analysis suggests that whilst health co-benefits are a key driver of air pollution mitigation policies, climate mitigation policies are primarily driven by other factors, including economic costs and energy implications. Key policy insights Health co-benefits are quantified and monetized as part of the development of EU climate change mitigation policies but their influence on the final policies agreed upon is limited. Barriers, such as the immediate economic costs associated with climate action, inhibit the influence of health co-benefits on the development of mitigation policies. Health co-benefits primarily drive the development of EU air pollution mitigation policies. The separation of responsibility for GHG and non-GHG emissions across Directorate Generals has decoupled climate change and air pollution mitigation policies, with consequences for the integration of health co-benefits in climate policy.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)585-597
    Number of pages13
    JournalClimate Policy
    Volume19
    Issue number5
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 28 May 2019

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