The Lancet Pathfinder Commission: pathways to a healthy, zero-carbon future - The Lancet

27 Feb 2021

Andy Haines, Helen Clark, Joy Phumaphi, Sarah Whitmee, Rosemary Green

Full publication

It is a priority to develop and communicate a compelling, evidence-based vision of a net-zero carbon society in which people thrive, supported by a sustainable world economy. The potential benefits to human health in such a society are considerable. For example, reductions in air pollution would reduce the burden of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases; transforming food and transport systems would reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases, obesity, and undernutrition; and conserving natural spaces would safeguard human wellbeing, while protecting the planet's life support systems. 12 Moreover, rapid decarbonisation would reduce the major human health risks posed by climate change. 3 To move toward such a future, global, national, and subnational policy makers need to make decisions based on sound scientific evidence. Such evidence also helps policy makers to be able to draw on examples that are illustrative of how to address implementation challenges in diverse settings and how to overcome them. The most useful evidence will describe actions that jointly benefit the environment, the economy, and human health, while also highlighting transformative change so that substantial improvements can be achieved with minimal delay.



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  2. Whitmee S, Haines A, Beyrer C et al. Safeguarding human health in the Anthropocene epoch: report of The Rockefeller Foundation–Lancet Commission on planetary health. Lancet. 2015; 386: 1973-2028
  3. Smith KR, Woodward A, Campbell-Lendrum D et al. 2014: Human health: impacts, adaptation, and co-benefits. in: Field CB Barros VR Dokken DJ Climate change 2014: impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Part A: global and sectoral aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge and New York 2014: 709-754