The full series of articles can be downloaded at climatechange

The Health Benefits of Tackling Climate Change In December 2009, a series of studies was published in The Lancet examining the health implications, in both high-income and low-income countries, designed to reduce the release of greenhouse gases, such as methane, CO2 and NO2. The following is a concise summary of the studies that covered four sectors in which greenhouse gases can be reduced.

inactivity and lessen the impact of health-damaging air pollutants while also making the roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists. Scenario testing with more walking and cycling and less vehicle use in London generates a fall in heart disease (10-20%), breast cancer (12-13%), dementia (8%) and depression (5%). Similar results are generated for Delhi, with reductions in heart diseases and diabetes (1025%, 6-17% respectively). Thus major public health benefits will depend on the introduction of policies that combine reduced motor vehicle use, more walking and cycling, and low-carbonemission motor vehicles.

Household energy emissions Household energy use is responsible for a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions in both high-income and low-income countries. In the UK, residential Yiding Jiang buildings account for just over a is a healthcare actuary and is currently Low-carbon electricity reading an Health Policy quarter of the total emission of CO2. MSc in generation at London School of Hygiene and The simple stoves used in the Tropical Medicine and London School of on This study concentrates solely poorest half of the Economics. He can be contacted at yiworld’s the health effects of emitted households are low in energy airborne particles through electricity efficiency and produce many healthgeneration. One emission control damaging airborne particles which scenario consists of full carbon induce acute respiratory infections trading and only 50% of existing in young children and chronic targets imposed, with reduced respiratory and heart diseases in emission made wherever it is most mature adults. cost effective to do so. Projections show that this scenario will lead to In the UK, a program that improves reductions in airborne particle household energy efficiency can emission which will save an extra reduce CO2 emissions by a third 100 life-years per million in the EU (encompassing more house in 1 year (6000 life-years for the insulation, better ventilation and UK), with results for China 5 times heat recovery, a switch to electric better than the EU and India 10 heating, a reduction in household times. The biggest health temperature of 1˚C). In India, a 10 improvements would be in year program to introduce 150 cardiopulmonary diseases followed million low-emission cook stoves by lung cancer, two of the major may reduce the burden of burdens of disease. respiratory and heart diseases by a sixth. Food and agriculture Agriculture and food production Urban land transport accounts for 10-12% of greenhouseTransport accounts for almost a gas emissions, with livestock quarter of all fossil fuel greenhousefarming responsible for 80% of gas emissions. Reducing motor these emissions. Increasing vehicle use by encouraging more affluence is set to push meat walking and cycling (potentially consumption even higher. through incentive programs), will diminish emissions and reduce The study identified four changes to obesity, lower the rate of chronic reduce emissions: greater efficiency diseases caused by physical in livestock farming; more carbon

capture through changes in landuse practices; better manure management; and less dependence on fossil fuels. However, these will unlikely be sufficient to meet the target, recommended by the Committee on Climate Change, of a 30% reduction in greenhouse-gas emission by 2030. Nevertheless, a 30% reduction in livestock production and consumption will reduce heart diseases by around 15% in the UK and Sao Paulo, Brazil. The result would be even better if second order effects such as reduced obesity and diet-related cancers were incorporated. Important to note is that due to global inequality in the availability of food provision, only concerted worldwide policies will generate the desired impact. Discussion Climate change not only impacts general insurance and investments, but also morbidity and mortality risks as well as workforce productivity. Furthermore, as these studies demonstrated, there can be health benefits to tackling climate change. These will translate into lower healthcare costs, improved productivity and quality of life and less employee churn. In our capacity as corporate advisors on issues of employee benefit, retirement and healthcare, actuaries should highlight to clients the importance of tackling climate change and that concrete actions, such as those suggested in these studies, can translate into material financial gains.