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To: EU Environment Ministers
Re: Input to Environment Council meeting 24 June

Brussels, 15 June 2011

To: EU Environment Ministers

Concerning: Input to Environment Council meeting 24 June

Call for Council conclusions on “A Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050” to support a 30% reduction for better health

Dear Minister,

Europe’s leading environmental health organisations, the Health and Environment Alliance and Health Care Without Harm Europe, welcome the current discussions on a Roadmap for moving to a low carbon economy by 2050. Above all, we see that the move could bring substantial health benefits and healthcare savings, literally saving lives and improving the health of people across all of Europe.

As two major European networks representing diverse health groups including patients, doctors, nurses, hospitals and public health institutes, we call on Europe’s environment ministers to support the 30% Greenhouse Gas reduction (GHG) target and to provide a platform for a legislative debate about the urgent need to decarbonise the European economy. Such a move would greatly benefit public health in Europe, e.g. reducing the risks of respiratory diseases such as asthma due to air pollution. This target will also lead to reduced car use and focus on healthier lifestyles such as walking and cycling whichwould reduce cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and depression[i].

Research by both HEAL and HCWH Europe concludes that meeting the 30% GHG target would bring health benefits of up to €30.5bn every year by 2020[ii]. Failure to decarbonise will be much more costly. Reaching the 30% GHG target by 2020 will save up to 140,385 life-years that would otherwise be lost due to premature death each year caused by for example respiratory and cardiovascular disease[iii]. Ensuring a healthy society and reducing risks of unnecessary and serious illness will enable Europe to build a healthier workforce for sustainable economic growth. Action now is imperative.

We therefore request that you:

  • support an EU 30% emissions reduction target by 2020
  • bring forward proposals for the set-aside of allowances in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme
  • provide guidance to the European Commission and the Polish EU Presidency to prepare a decision on a new EU climate target by the end of 2011.

We look forward to working with you to ensure that health becomes a cornerstone of EU and international climate change policy.

Sincerely,

Genon Jensen Executive Director Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL)

Anja Leetz Executive Director Health Care Without Harm Europe (HCWH Europe)


[i] Health Care Without Harm and Health & Environment Alliance, ‘Acting now for a better health. A 30% reduction target for EU climate policy.’ (2010); page 12

[ii] Health Care Without Harm and Health & Environment Alliance, ‘Acting now for a better health. A 30% reduction target for EU climate policy.’ (2010).

[iii] Health Care Without Harm and Health & Environment Alliance, ‘Acting now for a better health. A 30% reduction target for EU climate policy.’ (2010); page 25.

Last updated on 22 June 2011

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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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