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Health savings of tackling climate change untapped: report

State and Territory governments are being urged to crunch the numbers to determine the "health dividend" of tackling climate change.

A review of recent studies, released today, suggests coal-fired power in Australia costs the community $2.6 billion a year through lung, heart and nervous-system diseases.

The annual health cost of pollution from cars, trucks and other fossil-fuelled transport is estimated to be $3.3 billion.

But the Our Uncashed Dividend report, produced by the Climate and Health Alliance and the Climate Institute, says updated figures are needed because the health dividend of tackling climate change is largely untapped.

"Economic evaluation of the health benefits of emissions reductions in Australian jurisdictions would provide economic, social and political incentives for action and help build public support for climate mitigation," the report states.

It argues the Gillard government's carbon price regime is a "welcome beginning", but much more needs to be done.

"The development of a national strategy for health in relation to climate change is needed to help manage the risks to people's health and to promote health through emissions reductions," it says.

The report states that tackling climate change will result in fewer hospital admissions, fewer sick days, increased productivity and improved life expectancy.

"One recent global study found that for every tonne of carbon dioxide they avoid, countries could save an average of $46 in health costs - around twice Australia's starting price for carbon," said Fiona Armstrong, the report’s author.

The report’s release follows claims by Liberal state health ministers that the carbon tax would drive up the costs of running health care systems.


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