News

WHO Report Shows Health and Climate Co-benefits in Transport Sector

World Health Organization (WHO)6 December 2011: The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a report on the health benefits of low-carbon transport measures, such as rapid transit, walking or cycling, as part of its "Health in the Green Economy" series.

Launched at a side event during the Durban Climate Change Conference, the report outlines strategies that can help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the transport sector while generating health benefits.

The report's key messages stress that a combination of active modes of transport, such as walking or cycling, rapid transport and improved land use to improve access to key destinations by these modes, can yield much greater immediate health co-benefits than improving fuel and vehicle efficiencies.

Such health benefits include reduced cardiovascular and respiratory disease from air pollution, less traffic injury and noise-related stress, and prevention of some cancers, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other obesity-related risks. Meanwhile, the report notes, a shift to fuel efficient diesel engines could increase emissions of health-damaging small particulates.

Recommended strategies include: integrating urban residential and commercial areas through more compact land use; including health and equity costs in cost-benefit analyses of transport projects; and improving active transport, rapid transit and public transport as cost effective measures to mitigate GHG emissions.

The report further stresses that healthier transport strategies also can help close the health equity gap in low- and middle-income countries by: reducing air pollution; providing benefits to women, older adults, children, people with disabilities and lower income groups; reducing the need for biofuels and related threats to food security; and reducing the use of older, more polluting vehicles. [Publication: Health Co-benefits of Climate Change Mitigation - Transport Sector] [WHO Press Release]