The household energy paper showed that introducing low-emission stove technology, specifically replacing biomass stoves in India, could improve respiratory health and is one of the most cost-effective climate-health linkages, given that indoor air pollution from inefficient cooking stoves increases respiratory infections in children and chronic heart disease in adults. The transportation study showed that cutting emissions by reducing motor vehicle use and increasing walking and cycling would bring substantial health gains by reducing heart disease and stroke by 10-20 percent, dementia by eight percent, and depression by five percent.

The electricity study demonstrated that changing methods of generation to reduce carbon dioxide, such as using wind turbines, would reduce particulate air pollution and yield the greatest potential for health-related cost savings in China and India. The final study showed that the food and agriculture sector contributes about 20 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions, and that a 30 percent reduction in consumption of saturated fats from animal sources would reduce heart disease by about 15 percent while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Each study in the series examines the health implications of actions in high- and low-income countries designed to reduce the release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Climate change due to emission of greenhouse gases from fossil fuel energy sources causes air pollution by increasing ground-level ozone and concentrations of fine particulate matter.

"Climate change threatens us all, but its impact will likely be greatest on the poorest communities in every country," said Kirk R. Smith, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, and author on several of the papers. "Carefully choosing how we reduce greenhouse gas emissions will have the added benefit of reducing global health inequities."

Source: NIH/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences