Co-benefits are the positive effects that an action to tackle climate change may have on other outcomes such as health, transport or housing. Highlighting co-benefits in policy-making is essential to delivering climate action faster.  

Government spending on healthcare totalled £269 billion in 2020. Investment in climate actions which improve health can reduce costs to the health service.

Our top 5 climate actions and their health co-benefits are:

Improving air quality

Decarbonising transport by making vehicles more fuel efficient, powered by renewable energies and improving public transport reduces air pollution and the numbers of diseases, illnesses and premature deaths, such as by cancer, caused by it. It will also tackle climate change. 

Less driving, more walking and cycling

An even better way to reduce carbon emissions is to promote walking and cycling as these are the least damaging to our planet. Not only does so-called ‘active transport’ reduce air pollution, it can reduce the number of road traffic injuries and deaths. Walking and cycling also increases people’s physical activity and tackles health issues like obesity, cardiovascular diseases and even cancer.

Eating less meat

Livestock rearing for meat consumption is a huge cause of climate change. Drastically cutting the amount of meat and animal products eaten tackles deforestation, improves biodiversity and reduces carbon and greenhouse gas emissions. Eating less meat also has health benefits such as limiting the risk of cardiovascular diseases, strokes and certain types of cancer, such as bowel cancer.

Insulating homes

Improving the insulation of homes would require less energy to heat them and therefore reduce carbon emissions. Better energy efficiency reduces illnesses such as respiratory diseases related to living in a cold home. It also tackles inequality and boosts work productivity due to improved health.  

More greenspace

Creating more green space and planting trees absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and prevents over-heating in summer (the ‘heat island’ effect), reducing the effects of climate change. Green areas therefore reduce incidents of heat stress, which can affect the elderly in particular. It would also improve the mental health of all age groups.  

Net Zero Navigator

The Net Zero Navigator for local governments links co-benefits to climate action. Highlighting co-benefits helps to build the business case for climate action and drives cross-departmental collaboration. Take a look here.