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Impact story: Making the leap – better health through climate action

Climate change isn’t only caused by carbon dioxide emissions. Other compounds – like soot, methane, ozone and fluorinated gases – also have a big impact. While most remain in the atmosphere for less time than CO2, they can be many times more potent, and action to reduce them can lead to swift reductions in warming. SEI has helped show that cutting emissions of these short-lived climate pollutants will also significantly reduce premature deaths.

Photo: a l o b o s / Flickr.

Date published
31 July 2018

LEAP-IBC – energy, climate and health calculator

SEI’s energy planning tool, LEAP – the Long-range Energy Alternatives Planning system – is used by governments all over the world to help meet their climate commitments under the Paris Agreement. The LEAP team continues to develop the system, to allow policy-makers and other researchers to meet new and ongoing energy challenges, and develop innovative policy. A recent update is the new integrated benefits calculator – LEAP-IBC – which allows the user to quantify the number of premature deaths that could be avoided through reducing emissions, alongside impacts on global temperature.

Premature death is only one of the possible health outcomes of air pollution. LEAP-IBC can be applied to many others and will prove a vital tool for research into a range of health impacts.

Integrated solutions

LEAP-IBC has been used by organisations in almost 190 countries, and is currently being used by policy-makers and planners in Bangladesh, Chile, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, the Maldives, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Peru, the Philippines, and Togo. Many governments use the platform to help meet their climate commitments under the Paris Agreement, but many are also using LEAP to integrate health co-benefits into their strategies.

“LEAP-IBC will allow Chile to compare predicted impacts of policies within specific implementation periods, and to use these results to support informed and efficient policy decisions.”
—Priscilla Ulloa, Ministry of Environment, Chile

The Government of Ghana has been using LEAP for more 10 ten years. Simpson Attieku, Senior Energy Analyst at the Ghana Energy Commission, said that the new capacity to measure the health and climate benefits of low-emissions strategies is “creating new links between government ministries”. For example, setting up a soot-free bus system in Ghana would normally be the sole responsibility of the transport ministry, but Attieku found that by using LEAP-IBC, “the health ministry has realised that this is really part of their agenda as well.”

Chile uses LEAP-IBC for national planning on short-lived climate pollutants, and views the tool as vital for assessing the benefits and trade-offs of different policy choices. Initially Chile is focusing on replacing wood combustion heaters and promoting electric buses. Priscilla Ulloa of Chile’s Ministry of Environment said, “Chile’s approach is to address local air pollution and climate change through integrated public policy mitigation actions.”

Looking ahead

By showing how climate action and human health are connected, LEAP-IBC is helping countries to meet climate and health goals through joined-up action. Demand for the tool is growing. SEI will partner with Chile, Ghana, Mexico and Peru to develop it further, to make integrated analysis that is more relevant, and easier to apply.

SDG 3

Good health and well-being

Human wellbeing is one of the ultimate aims of SEI’s work. Our research explores the interconnections between human health and environmental sustainability. Our work has made particular contributions to policies on air pollution, access to sanitation and improving maternal health.

SDG3 research connections. SDG3 is connected to SDGs 2, 7, 11 and 13.

Connecting to the SDGs

The LEAP platform has been in use for more than a decade, and already makes a significant contribution to improving access to affordable and clean energy (Goal 7), and work to tackle climate change (Goal 13). But LEAP’s potential impacts on health (Goal 3) and agriculture (Goal 2) are only now beginning to be understood. Recent research using LEAP has shown the interconnectedness of health and climate policies, making a clear case for joined-up thinking across government departments. Our work is also highlighting the kinds of co-benefits this approach could bring.