Conference PaperPDF Available

Energy transition as a challenge for public health

Authors:
  • University of Novi Sad, Faculty of Medicine, Novi Sad, Serbia
  • Health and Environment Alliance, Brussels, Belgium

Abstract

Quality of life and population well-being is heavily depending on energy. All activities in housing, education sector, health sector and others need energy. Public health implications of energy choices are slowly getting on the top of the agenda in climate and energy discussions globally. Modern society, in the era of climate change is seriously recognizing relation between energy and health as high-level public health policy challenge. Health toll, in terms of ill health and cost to health systems due to fossil fuel use and climate change, is growing year by year. Health sector awareness of energy choices and policies related to energy prompted global action to phase out all fossil fuels as soon as possible. For example, EU hospitals are responsible for roughly 5% of the annual carbon dioxide emissions, while the health sector, as a whole, has a considerable carbon footprint. Worldwide energy production, particularly use of fossil fuels for electricity, accounts for about a one third of total greenhouse-gas emissions, thus contributing to climate change and its adverse health consequences, including the high costs to health systems in many regions. The role of public health is crucial and should be devoted to: increasing patient’s literacy about healthy energy choices and energy transition, increasing responsible energy use in health sector, supporting decision-makers in clean energy transition, rise importance of search for new solutions. In order to prevent number of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, clean energy choices and energy efficiency measures in every sector, including health, must come as mainstream. Advocacy for healthy energy choices and energy transition as public health priority and sustainable healthcare is needed. Public health should lead by their own effort and behavior in energy transition, changing mindset process and supporting energy sector with educational sector in long term goal – to make energy transition possible.
7.C. Workshop: Energy transition as a challenge for
public health
Chairs: Peter van den Hazel, Netherlands, Marija Jevtic, Serbia
Organised by: EUPHA (ENV)
Contact: Peter.van.den.Hazel@vggm.nl
Quality of life depends on energy. All activities in housing,
education sector, health sector and other sectors need energy.
Public health implications of energy choices are slowly getting
to the top of the agenda in climate and energy discussions
globally. Modern society, in the era of climate change, is
seriously recognizing the relation between energy and health as
high-level public health policy challenge.
Health toll, in terms of ill health and cost to health systems due
to fossil fuel use and climate change, is growing year by year.
Health sector’s awareness of energy choices and energy related
policies has prompted global action to phase out all fossil fuels
as soon as possible.
Burning fossil fuels causes air pollution and climate change,
representing the biggest threat to public health of the 21st
century. Whereas fossil fuels have played a crucial role to
power the world economy and deliver unprecedented affluence
to huge numbers of people since the 18th century, those same
fuels are now threatening life on earth. Despite the Paris
Agreement and national commitments to the Sustainable
Development Goals, virtually all governments continue to
spend huge amounts of public money on supporting the oil,
gas and coal industry in the production of fossil fuels. These
so-called fossil fuel subsidies create health costs up to 20 times
their amount.
The costs to health stemming from the resulting air pollution,
climate change and environmental degradation are not carried
by the industry but paid by society: For every billion dollars the
world’s richest 20 governments spend on fossil fuel subsidies
more than 10,000 people die of air pollution.
Improving children’s health and reducing environmental risks
should be at the heart of sustainable development and energy
transition. Furthermore, energy poverty, good lighting for
education, clean transportation, comfortable heating and cooling
all play a key role in children’s development and well-being.
Social barriers in the context of the energy sector face the risk of
being neglected in global and national negotiations and decision-
making, as well as in programme planning that is intended to
benefit local populations, including women and children.
Key messages:
Energy transition needs to be at the core of public health
policy making
Children’s health can be improved by energy transition
Energy transition as a challenge for public health
Marija Jevtic
´
M Jevtic
´
1,2,4
, V Matkovic Puljic
3
, C Bouland
4
1
University of Novi Sad, Faculty of Medicine, PHIV, Universite
´Libre de
Bruxelles (ULB, ESP), Novi Sad, Serbia
2
Institute of Public Health of Vojvodina
3
Health and Environment Alliance, Brussels, Belgium
4
Universite
´Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Research centre on Environmental and
Occupational Health, School of Public Health, Brussels, Belgium
Contact: zdravlje.marija.jevtic@gmail.com
Quality of life depends on energy. All activities in housing,
education sector, health sector and other sectors need energy.
Public health implications of energy choices are slowly getting
to the top of the agenda in climate and energy discussions
globally. Modern society, in the era of climate change, is
seriously recognizing the relation between energy and health as
high-level public health policy challenge.
Health toll, in terms of ill health and cost to health systems due to
fossilfueluseandclimatechange, is growing year by year. Health
sector’s awareness of energy choices and energy related policies
haspromptedglobalactiontophaseoutallfossilfuelsassoonas
possible. For example, EU hospitals are responsible for roughly
5% of the annual carbon dioxide emissions, while the health
sector, as a whole, has a considerable carbon footprint.
Worldwide energy production, particularly use of fossil fuels
for electricity, accounts for about a one third of total
greenhouse-gas emissions, thus contributing to climate
change and its adverse health consequences, including the
high costs to health systems in many regions.
The role of public health is crucial and should be devoted to:
increasing patient’s literacy about healthy energy choices and
energy transition, increasing responsible energy use in health
sector, supporting decision-makers in clean energy transition,
rise importance of search for new solutions.
In order to prevent number of respiratory and cardiovascular
diseases, clean energy choices and energy efficiency measures
in every sector, including health, must come as mainstream.
Advocacy for healthy energy choices and energy transition as
public health priority and sustainable healthcare is needed.
Public health should lead by their own effort and behavior in
energy transition, changing mindset process and supporting
energy sector with educational sector in long term goal – to
make energy transition possible.
Choose Health - How we can stop fuelling disease
Vijoleta Gordeljevic
V Gordeljevic
HEAL, Brussels, Belgium
Contact: vijoleta@env-health.org
Burning fossil fuels causes air pollution and climate change,
representing the biggest threat to public health of the 21st century.
Whereas fossil fuels have played a crucial role to power the world
economy and deliver unprecedented affluence to huge numbers
of people since the 18th century, those same fuels are now
threatening life on earth. Despite the Paris Agreement and
national commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals,
virtually all governments continue to spend huge amounts of
public money on supporting the oil, gas and coal industry in the
production of fossil fuels. These so-called fossil fuel subsidies
create health costs up to 20 times their amount.
The costs to health stemming from the resulting air pollution,
climate change and environmental degradation are not carried
by the industry but paid by society: For every billion dollars the
world’s richest 20 governments spend on fossil fuel subsidies
more than 10,000 people die of air pollution.
Subsidising this harmful industry at a time when fossil fuels
need to stay under the ground, damages public health by
increasing air pollution and the health risks associated with
climate change, but it also puts a burden on health systems and
public budgets overall by locking in billions of funds that could
be used more efficiently for services such as universal health
coverage, better education or overall poverty reduction.
The good news is that we have alternative options. The
transition to renewables such as wind, solar or hydropower is
possible already today. Reforming subsidies could result in a
50% decrease of premature deaths worldwide . It is not solely
less fossil fuels that brings health benefits- the renewable
energies that will take their place will not only decrease carbon
emissions but have their own positive health implications.
aos, paving the way for renewable, clean energy choices and
their multiple health benefits.
10th European Public Health Conference: Parallel sessions 195
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