Illustration showing someone cycling who has just sold his car

Spinoff benefits

Many changes aimed at tackling climate change will bring extra benefits

Tackling climate change effectively is likely to have a major impact on modern life. Reducing carbon emissions may lead to lifestyle changes that are seen as a nuisance or restrictive. On the other hand, several have the potential to enhance life in other ways.

Many possible ‘co-benefits’ have been identified. Suppose fewer people use cars to take children to school. Children and adults will get more exercise, helping to tackle the obesity problem. More social interaction will take place. Cities with fewer cars will be more pleasant places to live in.

And with fewer car journeys, there will be fewer road traffic accidents and less pollution – benefiting respiratory health. Most people living near airports will be glad to see less air travel. Greening cities and protecting natural environments will also provide more pleasant surroundings. If we eat more local food in season and rely less on processed food it may improve our health and help local growers.

Although climate change will have an economic impact, new opportunities will arise in areas linked to environmental protection, sustainable energy production and energy saving.

In low- and middle-income countries considerable benefits may emerge, for instance by switching to greener sources of energy. Use of wood or biomass for energy production – such as using wood stoves in confined spaces – creates indoor pollution that harms millions of people.

Lead image:

Illustration © Glen McBeth


About this resource

This resource was first published in ‘Health and Climate Change’ in January 2009 and reviewed and updated in September 2014.

Ecology and environment, Health, infection and disease, Biotechnology and engineering
Health and Climate Change
Education levels:
14–16, 16–19, Continuing professional development