Co-benefits are the positive effects that an action to tackle climate change may have on other outcomes such as social inclusion, employment or health. Highlighting co-benefits in policymaking is essential to delivering climate action faster.
The climate crisis is exacerbating existing inequalities in society. Deprived areas in towns and cities are exposed to a larger share of environmental risks and dangers, yet usually contribute the least to them. Therefore, climate actions need to ensure that they simultaneously boost social inclusion and address inequalities in our society.
Our top 5 climate actions and their social inclusion co-benefits are:
In 2020, it was estimated that 13.2% of households in England live in fuel poverty. This means they are unable to afford to adequately heat their homes. Increasing the energy efficiency of homes would reduce greenhouse gas emissions whilst lifting people out of fuel poverty. Thus, resolving social and health inequalities.
There is a significant link between transport, air pollution and inequality. Deprived neighbourhoods in the UK tend to have higher air pollution levels of which residents from ethnic minorities make up a large proportion. Air pollution is linked to increased health problems and underperformance in schools. Decarbonising the transport sector can therefore address health and educational inequalities.
Encouraging people to cycle by implementing protected cycle routes reduces the number of cars on the road which reduces carbon emissions and air pollution. It can also make cycling more inclusive. In the UK during the coronavirus pandemic, more women and people from ethnic minorities took up cycling. This is due to the increase in cycling infrastructure that made cycling safer as well as the influence of grassroots community projects such as RideFest and Cycle Sisters.
Majority of the UK’s ethnic minority communities live in the most deprived inner-city areas which have access to five times fewer public parks and green space than people in affluent areas. Providing more green space and trees would extract excess carbon from the atmosphere and reduce air pollution. It would also reduce the impacts of deprivation, resolve health inequalities and create a strong community.
Plant-based school meals
In the UK there are almost 9 million children in the British school system so providing plant-based school meals can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions whilst providing and educating children about nutritious foods. Plant-based meals also allow children to eat the same meals irrespective of religious dietary requirements, making them more inclusive.
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.