Acknowledge the link between climate change and inequalities and develop and promote policies that improve both at the same time
The consequences of the environmental crisis fall disproportionality on those countries and communities that have contributed least to the problem and are least able to mitigate the harms. The World Bank has warned that, in the absence of well-designed and inclusive policies, climate change mitigation measures can place a higher financial burden on poor households. For example, policies that expand public transport or carbon pricing may increase the cost of public transport and disproportionately impact poorer households.
Any measures taken to decarbonise economies also need to understand and address inequalities, to ensure the mitigation and adaptation measures put in place do not negatively impact the most vulnerable but seek to address social inequality.
Globally, equity must be at the centre of the response to climate change and biodiversity loss. Wealthier countries will have to cut emissions more quickly, making reductions by 2030 beyond those currently proposed and reaching net-zero emissions before 2050. Global coordination is needed to ensure that the rush for cleaner technologies does not come at the cost of more environmental destruction and human exploitation. Further information and resources on our call for climate justice can be found here.
The UCL Institute of Health Equity’s report – Sustainable Health Equity: Achieving a Net Zero UK – sets out recommendations for improving health, reducing health inequalities and achieving net zero carbon emissions in the UK by 2050.
An independent UK health expert advisory group chaired by Professor Sir Michael Marmot, highlighted how the direct and indirect impacts of climate change will likely widen existing health inequalities and warned that if health equity isn’t considered when developing policies to reduce emissions, there is a risk that benefits to health will be unequally distributed.
The report identified four key areas for action:
- Minimising air pollution
- Building energy efficient homes
- Promoting sustainable and healthy food
- Prioritising active and safe transport