YESI and SEI-Y host a full house at a public seminar: What are the true health costs of air pollution?

News | Posted on Wednesday 25 May 2016

The York Environmental Sustainability Institute and the Stockholm Environment Institute at York this week co-hosted a public seminar at the University of York, welcoming Nick Muller, Associate Professor of Economics at Middlebury College, Vermont, and a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research in the U.S.A.

Professor Muller’s research focuses on the valuation of damages from pollution and the incorporation of such damages into environmental accounting systems and market-based policy designs, and using the U.S. as a case study, his seminar described some of the key issues associated with cost-benefit analysis and valuation of human health.

He suggested to attendees that “rather than simply looking at GDP, by incorporating reductions of adverse health impacts due to improvements in air quality into measures of our economic growth, we gain a better understanding of the progress we are making. This dispels the myth of a mutually exclusive choice between improving the environment versus enhancing growth. ”

The sell-out event then presented a panel debate chaired by Professor Karen Bloor, the University’s Research Theme Champion for Health and Wellbeing, in which colleagues from the Centre for Health Economics and the Health Sciences Department here at York, and the Stockholm Environment Institute in both York and Sweden took questions from the floor and debated a range of policy and economic challenges in the face of air pollution damage to human health and the environment.

Dr. Lisa Emberson, Director of the Stockholm Environment Institute at York reflected afterwards that “the seminar provided a great opportunity to bring together academics from different disciplines looking at estimating the physical impact of air pollution on human health and how best to estimate costs of these impacts within the economy. The overriding consensus was that our current understanding calls for immediate action on air pollution mitigation; continued work with policy makers and other stakeholders will help ensure the information we provide is robust and relevant within the decision making process”.

For those that were unable to attend the seminar and debate, the full event is available to watch on our YouTube channel.