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EPHA and LSHTM: Preventing global non-communicable diseases through low carbon development conference

The European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) recently participated at the conference ‘Preventing global non-communicable diseases through low carbon development’ organised by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) which aimed to share information between those groups with an interest in non-communicable diseases (NCD) and sustainability and to identify common causes and inter-linkages.

Both NCDs and climate change are enormous threats to global health but synergies attempting to tackle these health threats have received limited attention to date.

EPHA identified four key areas outside the health sectors to reduce both NCDs and greenhouse gas emissions. Health co-benefits of the low-carbon economy can be achieved as a side effect of other policies, as follows:

1. Housing - clean household energy is central to improving women’s and children’s health. With energy efficient houses both climate change and public health benefits can be achieved.

2. Transport is an important area where reductions can be made to air pollution, road traffic injuries, and noise which put large burdens on human health. Safe and active transport as well as increased physical activity (e.g. walking, cycling) can avert the very large burden of disease.

3. Food and agriculture are important contributors to green-house gas emissions. Livestock are currently responsible for 80% of all CO2 emissions from the Agricultural industry. Reducing consumption of beef and sheep products could help lower emissions and improve health.

4. Electricity generation can lift populations out of poverty, but it is largely fossil fuel driven, particularly in developing countries. This can have negative impacts on health. Nuclear energy is beneficial from an emissions point of view but is controversial for security and safety reasons.

Originally posted on 14 March 2013

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The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a leading European not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union (EU). We demonstrate how policy changes can help protect health and enhance people’s quality of life. Read more »

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