The health benefits from policies to reduce short-lived climate pollutants (SLCP) include fewer premature deaths from air pollution-related diseases, as well as a reduction in car traffic and related injuries, and increased levels of physical activity through the promotion of walking and cycling. Similarly, policies to replace kerosene lamps with solar energy or electricity will decrease the number of burns caused by the use of unsafe fuels.
By highlighting the health benefits of SLCP reductions, this project aims to mobilize the health sector in support of policy action to mitigate climate change and air pollution. The emphasis on health is expected to provide a compelling argument for policy makers to take more assertive action to reduce SLCPs. While the multiple health benefits of reducing short-lived climate pollutant emissions can be a strong rationale for policy, these arguments are currently underutilized by the health and environment sectors to unleash action.
The Urban Health and SLCP Reduction Project has three major components:
- Providing evidence to local stakeholders, strengthening capacity and enabling the local uptake of public health tools
- Developing analyses of the health benefits from SLCP mitigation strategies, focusing on specific sectors and policies using the local evidence to support action at the local level and help overcome barriers for policy change
- Strengthening communications targeting policymakers, health sector and the public in the pilot city and promoting the health benefits from CCAC sector initiatives, as well as tools, experiences and lessons learned
Cities have been identified as the focus of this project because they are centres of economic activity, producers and consumers of goods and energy, and sites where many types of SLCP and other pollutant emissions tend to be most concentrated. Human exposure to SLCPs and other air pollutants is high in cities due to large population densities and proximity to pollution sources. This makes cities ideal settings for demonstrating tangible health benefits from SLCP and air pollution mitigation measures.
City governments and stakeholders have significant influence over policy decisions and investments within their jurisdictions, which can lead to reduced SLCP emissions from sources, such as transport, waste management and energy. Sustainability policies adopted by urban “innovators” have been shown to motivate other cities to adopt similar policies, while also contributing to national decisions.
The health benefits of urban SLCP mitigation measures can be enjoyed by local populations and in the near term. All of these factors make the promotion of SLCP interventions in cities attractive for local politicians.