Public health benefits of strategies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions: urban land transport.

Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK.
The Lancet (Impact Factor: 39.06). 11/2009; 374(9705):1930-43. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(09)61714-1
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT We used Comparative Risk Assessment methods to estimate the health effects of alternative urban land transport scenarios for two settings-London, UK, and Delhi, India. For each setting, we compared a business-as-usual 2030 projection (without policies for reduction of greenhouse gases) with alternative scenarios-lower-carbon-emission motor vehicles, increased active travel, and a combination of the two. We developed separate models that linked transport scenarios with physical activity, air pollution, and risk of road traffic injury. In both cities, we noted that reduction in carbon dioxide emissions through an increase in active travel and less use of motor vehicles had larger health benefits per million population (7332 disability-adjusted life-years [DALYs] in London, and 12 516 in Delhi in 1 year) than from the increased use of lower-emission motor vehicles (160 DALYs in London, and 1696 in Delhi). However, combination of active travel and lower-emission motor vehicles would give the largest benefits (7439 DALYs in London, 12 995 in Delhi), notably from a reduction in the number of years of life lost from ischaemic heart disease (10-19% in London, 11-25% in Delhi). Although uncertainties remain, climate change mitigation in transport should benefit public health substantially. Policies to increase the acceptability, appeal, and safety of active urban travel, and discourage travel in private motor vehicles would provide larger health benefits than would policies that focus solely on lower-emission motor vehicles.

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