A Win/Win: Driving Improved Climate and Health Outcomes Through Mainstreaming of Co-benefits Quantification
As the climate crisis worsens, existing public health vulnerabilities—including food insecurity, access to safe water, sanitation, healthcare, and education—will be exacerbated, and vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly, socioeconomically marginalized communities, people with disabilities, and indigenous peoples will experience disproportionate exposures and vulnerabilities to climate-related hazards.
These concerns have spurred a commitment by the global health sector to advance mitigation and adaptation efforts, as recently reinforced at COP27, however, we need accurate data so we can calibrate efforts and monitor progress. Luckily, the health impacts of climate change can be quantified and can be used to justify and rally support for near-term investments by illustrating mid- to long-term benefits to public health. Decision support tools such as cost-benefit analysis (CBA) play a crucial role in helping policy makers evaluate the net benefits of proposed actions. Co-benefits analysis, or the estimation of benefits resulting from an action that are not related to its primary purpose, can help ensure that key benefits of climate mitigation measures are considered. Health policymakers and stakeholders can use information generated from CBAs, co-benefits analysis, and general economic analysis to make informed, evidence-based decisions that not only demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of climate interventions but also highlight the multitude of benefits to public health.