[Stoves] New WHO Report Identifies Cookstoves as One of Four Ways to Reduce Health Risks from Climate Pollutants
c_espinosa1 at u.pacific.edu
Thu Oct 22 16:24:03 MDT 2015
New report identifies four ways to reduce health risks from climate
*22 October 2015 | GENEVA -* A new WHO report highlights the urgent need to
reduce emissions of black carbon, ozone and methane - as well as carbon
dioxide – which all contribute to climate change. Black carbon, ozone and
methane – frequently described as short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) -
not only produce a strong global warming effect, they contribute
significantly to the more than 7 million premature deaths annually linked
to air pollution.
The report, *Reducing global health risks through mitigation of short-lived
climate pollutants*, produced in collaboration with the Climate and Clean
Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants, reveals that
interventions to cut SLCPs can reduce disease and death and contribute to
food security, improve diets and increase physical activity.
“Every day, these pollutants threaten the health of men, women and
children,” says Dr Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director-General at WHO. “For
the first time, this report recommends actions that countries, health and
environment ministries, and cities can take right now to reduce emissions,
protect health and avoid illness and premature deaths, which often take the
greatest toll on the most vulnerable.”
The report builds off a 2011 assessment by the UN Environment Programme and
World Meteorological Organization that estimated that a global deployment
of 16 SLCP reduction measures would prevent an average of 2.4 million
premature deaths annually by 2030. New estimates could raise that to 3.5
million lives saved annually by 2030, and between 3 to 5 million lives per
year by 2050. These latest projections take into account WHO’s latest data
on deaths linked to air pollution as well as some new SLCP measures.
"Quick action to reduce black carbon, methane and other ozone precursors
are much needed now, " says Helena Molin Valdés, head of the UNEP-hosted
CCAC. “We know that the sooner we start reducing these pollutants the
sooner we will relieve the pressures on climate and human health.”
Top actions for health and climate benefits
WHO rated more than 20 available and affordable measures to mitigate
short-lived climate pollutants, including vehicle emissions standards,
capturing landfill gas, switching from fossil fuels to renewables, reducing
food waste and improving household cooking fuels, to see which have the
greatest potential to improve health, reduce SLCP emissions and prevent
Four interventions rated medium to high in all three categories.
- Reducing vehicle emissions by implementing higher emissions and
efficiency standards could reduce black carbon and other co-pollutants from
fossil fuels, improve air quality and reduce the disease burden
attributable to outdoor air pollution.
- Policies and investments that prioritize dedicated rapid transit such
as buses and trains and foster safe pedestrian and cycle networks can
promote multiple benefits, including: safer active travel and reduced
health risks from air and noise pollution, physical inactivity, and road
- Providing cleaner and more efficient stove and fuel alternatives to
the approximately 2.8 billion low-income households worldwide dependent on
primarily wood, dung and other solid fuels for heating and cooking, could
reduce air pollution-related diseases and reduce the health risks and time
invested in fuel-gathering.
- Encouraging high and middle-income populations to increase their
consumption of nutritious plant-based foods could reduce heart disease and
some cancers, and slow methane emissions associated with some
“The health benefits that may be obtained from these strategies are far
larger than previously understood, and they can be enjoyed immediately and
locally,” says Maria Neira, WHO Director, Department of Public Health,
Environmental and Social Determinants of Health. “The environment and
health sectors can now prioritize interventions to meet both of their
goals—preventing climate change and ensuring good health.”
The way forward
The release of today’s report is a significant step in WHO’s ongoing work
to prevent diseases and deaths related to air pollution – and towards
achieving the new global health goal. Target 3.9 aims to “By 2030,
substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous
chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination.”
In May 2015, the World Health Assembly adopted a resolution to address the
health impacts of air pollution, which stresses the need for strong
cooperation between different sectors and integration of health concerns
into national, regional and local air-pollution-related policies.
WHO is piloting a number of these approaches in the urban health initiative
it is leading with CCAC, Norway and other partners. The initiative will be
rolled out in 4 cities in 2016. As part of this initiative, cost benefit
analysis of key interventions recommended here will be further assessed.
Evidence from previous WHO studies on healthy transport already suggest
that shifts to mass transport and the introduction of safe walking and
cycling networks are relatively inexpensive when compared with the loss of
life and costs of treating people for air-pollution related illnesses,
traffic injuries and diseases related to physical inactivity.
Note for editors:
The scoping review provides indicative ratings on three criteria.
- A high certainty of producing a major SLCP-related climate benefit,
meaning the intervention must address an activity that is a major source of
SLCP emissions and there must be good evidence that reductions in those
emissions have a cooling effect.
- A high likelihood of producing a major health benefit, meaning it must
reduce population exposure to risk factors that are associated with
substantial disease burdens. Examples of risk factors include: outdoor and
indoor air pollution, low physical activity, road traffic injuries and risk
factors associated with insufficient fruit and vegetable intake.
- Potential to reduce carbon dioxide and thus prevent climate change
over the long term.
This report comes ahead of the launch of WHO’s first climate change and
health country profiles, a number of which will be released in advance of
the 2015 Paris Climate Conference (COP21).
*The Climate and Clean Air Coalition* is a voluntary global partnership of
governments, intergovernmental organizations, businesses, scientific
institutions and civil society committed to catalysing concrete,
substantial action to reduce Short Lived Climate Pollutants (including
methane, black carbon and many hydrofluorocarbons). The Coalition works
through collaborative initiatives to raise awareness, mobilize resources
and lead transformative actions in key emitting sectors.
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