The role of health co-benefits in the development of national climate change mitigation policies

The role of health co-benefits in the development of national climate change mitigation policies

Thursday, 28 January 2016 - 10:00am to 11:00am

When considering the health (and other) impacts of climate change, world leaders are yet to commit to action on climate change commensurate to the likelihood and severity of risks, as outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Climate change has significant consequences for human health that are already being felt, and will be exacerbated if business as usual continues. Acting to mitigate climate change can result in many ancillary benefits (often termed co- benefits), including benefits to human health. 


Event Location: 
Fritz Lowe Theatre
University of Melbourne


Annabelle Workman completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Melbourne in 2008, majoring in Politics and Chinese. In her Honours year, she investigated China's environmental policies in the lead-up to the Beijing Olympics. After completing her studies, Annabelle worked at the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) for five years in clinical practice guidelines and research translation. While at NHMRC, Annabelle commenced a Postgraduate Diploma in Environments (Public Health), which she completed in 2014. Over the past decade, she has lived on campus at Queen’s College, mentoring and tutoring both undergraduate and graduate students. During her PhD candidature, Annabelle guest lectured in several Masters subjects. She completed her PhD in August 2019 and is eager to pursue opportunities to develop climate change policies that account for health impacts and co-benefits.

PhD Project: The role of health co-benefits in the development of climate change mitigation policies in Australia, the European Union, China and the United States

The vast majority of governments are yet to commit to climate action commensurate with the severity of predicted health and other impacts. Health co-benefits – the ancillary benefits to health that result from the implementation of mitigation policies - can provide a strong rationale for ambitious action, yet research investigating their influence on policy is limited. Annabelle developed case studies for Australia and the European Union and analysed Chinese and American documents to examine the role of health co-benefits in the development of climate change mitigation policies. In doing so, she identified barriers as well as opportunities to enhance their political traction. 

Department/School/Faculty/Other affiliations: School of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Science


1. David Karoly (50%)

2. John Wiseman (25%)

3. Grant Blashki (25%)

4. Kathryn Bowen (external supervisor)


Workman, A.Blashki, G., Karoly, D., Wiseman, J. (2016), The Role of Health Co-Benefits in the Development of Australian Climate Change Mitigation Policies, Int J Environ Res Public Health, 13(9): 927.

Workman, A.Blashki, G., Bowen, K.J., Karoly, D.J., Wiseman, J. (2018), The political economy of health co-benefits: Embedding health in the climate change agenda. Int J Environ Res Public Health, 15(4): 674.

Workman, A.Blashki, G., Bowen, K.J., Karoly, D.J., Wiseman, J. (2018), Health Co-Benefits and the Development of Climate Change Mitigation Policies in the European Union, Climate Policy, Nov 14; 1-13.

Additional Information

For the past two decades, numerous modelling studies have predicted health outcomes (health co- benefits and health co-harms) from the implementation of mitigation measures. Such studies reveal that when accounted for, health co- benefits can partially, if not fully, offset abatement costs. Health co- benefits therefore provide a strong moral and economic rationale for ambitious climate change action. The policy impact of health co-benefits and the literature that supports it is unclear; some studies assert that health co-benefits have not attained the political traction they warrant, yet little research investigates the validity of this claim. To address this knowledge gap, this thesis will employ a political economy of health framework to explore how predicted health outcomes co-benefits in particular are considered and accounted for in the development of national climate change mitigation policies. With Australia, China and the European Union as case studies, this thesis aims to understand the relative importance of health co-benefits, and the various factors that influence whether and how they are incorporated into climate change mitigation policy. 

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