Known unknowns: evidence of health co-benefits of decarbonising the transport sector

Theory and modelling studies suggest that some interventions to decarbonise emissions in the transport sector can, in addition to the long-term benefits from contributing to stabilising the global climate, have substantial short-term benefits for population health. Policies that encourage active modes of transportation, for example, may increase population physical activity or decrease air pollution, thus reducing the burden of conditions such as colon cancer, diabetes, heart disease and dementia. This thesis was concerned with examining the evidence to support these co-benefits through two pieces of research; a systematic review of evidence and a natural experiment analysis. The systematic review searched for evidence on whether policies that decrease transport sector CO2 emissions have a measurable effect on health determinants, population health and/or health inequalities under ‘real-world’ conditions. The natural experiment analysis utilised the variations in petrol and diesel price in New Zealand to explore whether increases in price have an impact on transport-related air pollution. The adjusted models, for all except one air quality station, showed a modest reduction in NOx associated with an increase in (unlagged) petrol price. The existing body of real-world evidence to support health co-benefits of decarbonising the transport sector is limited. This analysis provided some support for the existence of a short-term association between fuel price changes and transport-related air pollutants, although the net impact over the time period studied was probably neutral. However, the complexity of the area and the need to act quickly to reduce emissions means that there may be ongoing uncertainty about both the carbon and health impacts of many policies.


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  • Pagination: 1 file

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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01602494
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: ARRB
  • Files: ITRD, ATRI
  • Created Date: Jun 21 2016 10:21AM