Public health co-benefits of greenhouse gas emissions reduction: A systematic review

Jinghong Gao, Sari Kovats, Sotiris Vardoulakis, Paul Wilkinson, Alistair Woodward, Jing Li, Shaohua Gu, Xiaobo Liu, Haixia Wu, Jun Wang, Xiaoqin Song, Yunkai Zhai, Jie Zhao, Qiyong Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

86 Citations (Scopus)


Background and objectives: Public health co-benefits from curbing climate change can make greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation strategies more attractive and increase their implementation. The purpose of this systematic review is to summarize the evidence of these health co-benefits to improve our understanding of the mitigation measures involved, potential mechanisms, and relevant uncertainties. Methods: A comprehensive search for peer-reviewed studies published in English was conducted using the primary electronic databases. Reference lists from these articles were reviewed and manual searches were performed to supplement relevant studies. The identified records were screened based on inclusion criteria. We extracted data from the final retrieved papers using a pre-designed data extraction form and a quality assessment was conducted. The studies were heterogeneities, so meta-analysis was not possible and instead evidence was synthesized using narrative summaries. Results: Thirty-six studies were identified. We identified GHG mitigation strategies in five domains – energy generation, transportation, food and agriculture, households, and industry and economy – which usually, although not always, bring co-benefits for public health. These health gains are likely to be multiplied by comprehensive measures that include more than one sectors. Conclusions: GHG mitigation strategies can bring about substantial and possibly cost-effective public health co-benefits. These findings are highly relevant to policy makers and other stakeholders since they point to the compounding value of taking concerted action against climate change and air pollution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)388-402
Number of pages15
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


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