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What policies do we need to deliver decarbonisation?

By Paul Drummond, on 23 June 2015

Wind Turbine (c) SXC

Wind Turbine (c) SXC

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Another blog post in this series highlighted that whilst adaptation measures will be required to protect against climate changes that are already ‘locked-in’ due to past emissions, a ‘mitigation-first’ approach is clearly the most desirable pathway given uncertainties about the future, the risks an ‘adaptation-first’ approach may hold, and the health and other co-benefits action to mitigation of GHG emissions would bring. However, the question then arises – what policies and other enabling architecture are needed to pursue such a direction?

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Mitigation vs Adaptation – Which path to follow under uncertainty?

By Paul Drummond, on 23 June 2015

Thames Barrier (c) M Knight, UCL

Thames Barrier (c) M Knight, UCL

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Climate change poses a substantial risk to human societies. Indeed, as concluded by the first Lancet Commission on Climate Change and Health and reaffirmed by the second Commission report released this week, ‘climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st Century’. In economic terms, if we continue on our current path, the influential 2007 Stern Review concluded that we might experience costs equivalent to reducing annual global GDP by 5-20% ‘now, and forever’. As such, it is clear that action to prevent such impacts must be taken.

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Capturing the opportunities for health through deep decarbonisation of the energy system

By Steve Pye, on 23 June 2015

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The Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change strongly concludes that ‘tackling climate change could be the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century’. This reflects the possibility to reduce air pollution, increase access to affordable and clean energy, and create more healthy urban environments while undertaking actions to reduce GHGs. The transition to a deeply decarbonised economy has to happen if we are to ensure a high probability of avoiding global warming of more than 2⁰C. But the opportunity to maximise the health benefits of such a transition should be grasped.

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The Immediate Health Benefits Make Decarbonisation a “No Regret” Strategy

By Melissa C Lott, on 23 June 2015

Credit: Photo of smog in Beijing in January 2013 by 大杨 and used under CC2.0

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Moving to clean energy technologies could benefit public health today and save us billions of pounds.

According to the Lancet Commission’s latest report, cutting global carbon emissions will lessen the future negative health impacts from climate change. At the same time, a transition to clean energy technologies could have many immediate benefits for public health. In turn, the costs of decarbonisation could be quickly offset by short-term public health cost savings.

Much of the co-benefits highlighted in “Health and Climate Change: policy responses to protect public health” relate to air pollution – more specifically, the fact that multiple air pollutants are often produced by the same energy technologies. For example, diesel and petrol vehicles, coal power plants, and biomass (for example, wood and charcoal) for cooking produce an array of pollutants that lead to cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, and respiratory illness in addition to carbon dioxide. In turn, decarbonising the energy sector could quickly reduce air pollution and its direct impacts on public health.

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Tackling climate change improves health and saves money

By Ilan Kelman, on 23 June 2015

A recreational pathway in a Toronto, Canada ravine encourages exercise and reduces flood risk, so saves money. Photo: Ilan Kelman

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One key message from the Lancet Commission is the fundamental health tenet that ‘prevention is better than cure’. Solving climate change now is far cheaper than the future responses which are likely to be required. The required actions also have many other benefits.

To reduce fossil fuel use, changes to healthier lifestyles are encouraged. That includes more frequent walking and cycling as well as shifting to diets which are less meat-intensive and more locally sourced.

People gain individually by being healthier. The health service gains by having fewer patients with preventable chronic ailments, reducing costs and workloads. Everyone gains through tackling climate change’s basic sources. Read the rest of this entry »

How does the IPCC know climate change is happening?

By Mark A Maslin, on 23 June 2015

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Climate change is one of the few scientific theories that makes us examine the whole basis of modern society. It is a challenge that has politicians arguing, sets nations against each other, queries individual lifestyle choices, and ultimately asks questions about humanity’s relationship with the rest of the planet.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published its synthesis report on November 2 2014, a document that brings together the findings from the IPCC’s three main working groups. It reiterates that the evidence for climate change is unequivocal, with evidence for a significant rise in global temperatures and sea level over the last hundred years. It also stresses that we control the future and the magnitude of shifting weather patterns and more extreme climate events depends on how much greenhouse gas we emit.

This is not the end of the world as envisaged by many environmentalists in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but it will mean substantial, even catastrophic challenges for billions of people.

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Professor Bob Lowe, Director of the UCL Energy Institute, discusses UCL-Energy’s contribution to the Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change

By Robert Lowe, on 23 June 2015

Professor Paul Ekins, Director of the UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage, discuss UCL ISR’s contribution to the Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change

By Paul Ekins, on 23 June 2015

UCL Lancet Commission blog

By Ellie Forward, on 22 June 2015

This is a dedicated blog for the UCL contributions to the Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change that will launch on Tuesday 23 June 2015. Check back then for blogs and videos from UCL contributors.