Press release

Health benefits far outweigh the costs of meeting China’s climate change goals, experts say

Geneva, January 30 - Researchers from the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), together with experts from the World Health Organization (WHO), launched a report highlighting the substantial health gains expected from China’s national climate policies during a Special Event on Health & Climate Change in Geneva.
January 29, 2020

Geneva, January 30 - Researchers from the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), together with experts from the World Health Organization (WHO), launched a report highlighting the substantial health gains expected from China’s national climate policies during a Special Event on Health & Climate Change in Geneva.

The report on “Health Co-benefits From NDC Implementation in China” analyzed the positive impact on air pollution of policies related to current China’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) aimed at controlling carbon emissions. Studies estimated that the improved air quality from China’s commitments could result in between 225,000–250,000 premature deaths avoided in the year 2050—as well as an economic benefit to society of between USD 18 billion to USD 700 billion from the lives saved.

“This study showcases that the phaseout of heavily polluting forms of energy, such as coal, and the reform of subsidies to fossil fuels can have direct benefits on health and climate change,” says Lourdes Sanchez, IISD expert and the main author of the report.

A more ambitious five-year workplan and updated NDC in 2020 could see further co-benefits through the prevention of premature deaths and millions in health care cost savings in China.

The authors of the report note that reforming subsidies to fossil fuels—which cost the Chinese government at least USD 44.4 billion in 2018—could unlock significant amounts of funding that could be reallocated to other development priorities such as renewable energy or health.

Global health benefits far outweigh the costs of meeting climate change goals, according to WHO experts. “The health impacts of air pollution alone cost many countries more than 4% of their GDP a year, while reaching the Paris Goals would only require an average investment of 1% of yearly GDP,” says Dr. Maria Neira, WHO Director of the Department of Public Health, Environment and Social Determinants of Health.

The 2020 Global Conference on Health and Climate Change will take place in Glasgow at the margin of COP 26. During this event, the WHO expert will present a compilation of healthy NDCs—recommendations for countries to strengthen their NDCs to the Paris Agreement by developing health-inclusive and health-promoting climate targets and policies.

Notes to editors

The report ‘“Health Co-benefits From NDC Implementation in China”’ is due to be launched during a Special Event on Health & Climate Change on the 30th of January 2020 at 3.00-5.00 pm at the International Environment House II, Geneva.

Please register here to participate in person.  
Please register to here for the remote connection.

For more information or to arrange an interview with one of the experts please contact:

WHO Arthur Wyns [email protected]; IISD Paulina Resich [email protected]

About IISD

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is an award-winning independent think tank working to create a world where people and the planet thrive. Our mission is to accelerate solutions for a stable climate, sustainable resources, and fair economies. We shine a light on what can be achieved when governments, the private sector, NGOs, and communities come together to share knowledge, commit to change, and build resilience. With offices in Geneva, Ottawa, Toronto and Winnipeg, our research spans the globe.  

Press release details

Focus area
Climate