Assessing the Environment and Health Benefits of Reducing GHG-Related Emissions in Canada: A Discussion *

By Chiotti, Quentin; Urquizo, Natty | Canadian Journal of Regional Science, Summer 2002 | Go to article overview

Assessing the Environment and Health Benefits of Reducing GHG-Related Emissions in Canada: A Discussion *


Chiotti, Quentin, Urquizo, Natty, Canadian Journal of Regional Science


In Canada, the public and policy discourse on the costs of climate change has focused predominantly upon the costs of mitigation actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and most recently in the context of the costs of meeting the targets outlined in the Kyoto Protocol. In the climate science and policy literature, however, the issue is much broader and includes the costs associated with climate change impacts (otherwise known as the costs of inaction) in addition to the co-benefits for environment and health that could occur with reductions in greenhouse gas-related emissions. Emissions of air pollutants also contribute to a suite of atmospheric issues, including stratospheric ozone depletion, acid deposition, ground-level ozone, particulate matter, and hazardous airborne pollutants. This paper draws upon the report The Relative Magnitude of the Impacts and Effects of Greenhouse Gas--Related Emission Reductions that was prepared for Environment Canada, and outlines the relative importance of co-benefits for environment and health in Canada's climate change national implementation strategy. While the issue of co-benefits may be an important message that should be communicated to Canadians, in terms of generating public support for emission abatement measures, it is also inherently regional in its dimensions. A conceptual model is presented, which situates the benefits for human health from reductions in criteria air contaminants (CAC's) within a broader set of benefits for ecosystems, environment and social welfare. The paper concludes by emphasizing the need for regional scale analysis, and outlines a pathway forward, which invites interdisciplinary analyses that addresses human health issues in a broader conceptual context.

Au Canada, le discours public et politique concernant les couts du changement climatique a mis l'accent surtout sur les couts des actions d'attenuation afin de reduire les emissions de gaz a effet de serre, et plus recemment le debat a ete entrepri dans le contexte des couts necessaires pour atteindre les objectifs donnes par le Protocole de Kyoto. Toutefois, dans la litterature traitant de la science et de la politique par rapport au climat, l'enjeu est defini de facon plus large et comprend les couts associes avec les impacts de changement climatique (appele aussi les couts de l'inaction) en plus des co-benefices pour l'environnement et la sante qui pourraient venir avec des reductions dans les emissions de ces gaz a effet de serre. Les emissions de pollutants contribuent aussi a toute une serie de problemes atmospheriques, y compris la depletion de l'ozone dans la stratosphere, la deposition de l'acide, l'ozone au niveau de la terre, de la matiere de particules, et des polluants dangereux transmis dans l'air. Dans cet article, nous utilisons des informations tirees du rapport The Relative Magnitude of the Impacts and Effects of Greenhouse Gas--Related Emission Reductions prepare pour Environnement Canada; nous mettons en evidence l'importance relative des co-benefices pour l'environnement et pour la sante dans la mise a execution de la strategie nationale canadienne par rapport au changement climatique. Bien que la question des co-benefices peut etre un message important qui devrait etre transmis aux canadiens en termes de la mobilisation de l'appui public pour des mesures d'attenuation des emissions, elle presente egalement des dimensions regionales. Nous presentons un modele conceptuel, qui place les benefices pour la sante humaine provenant de reductions dans les contaminants aeriens critiques dans le contexte d'un plus large ensemble de benefices pour les ecosystemes, l'environnement et le bien-etre social. En conclusion, nous soulignons le besoin d'analyses a l'echelle regionale, et nous proposons une solution qui interpelle des analyses interdisciplinaires portant sur les questions de sante humaine dans un contexte conceptuel plus large. …

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