Assessing the Health Benefits of Physical Activity Due to Active Commuting in a French Energy Transition Scenario

Int J Public Health. 2022 Jul 12:67:1605012. doi: 10.3389/ijph.2022.1605012. eCollection 2022.


Objectives: Energy transition scenarios are prospective outlooks describing combinations of changes in socio-economic systems that are compatible with climate targets. These changes could have important health co-benefits. We aimed to quantify the health benefits of physical activity caused by active transportation on all-cause mortality in the French negaWatt scenario over the 2021-2050 period. Methods; Relying on a health impact assessment framework, we quantified the health benefits of increased walking, cycling and E-biking projected in the negaWatt scenario. The negaWatt scenario assumes increases of walking and cycling volumes of +11% and +612%, respectively, over the study period. Results: As compared to a scenario with no increase in volume of active travel, we quantified that the negaWatt scenario would prevent 9,797 annual premature deaths in 2045 and translate into a 3-month increase in life expectancy in the general population. These health gains would generate €34 billion of economic benefits from 2045 onwards. Conclusion: Increased physical activity implied in the negaWatt transition scenario would generate substantial public health benefits, which are comparable to the gain expected by large scale health prevention interventions.

Keywords: active transportation; climate change mitigation; health impact assessment; physical activity; transition scenario.

MeSH terms

  • Bicycling
  • Exercise*
  • Health Impact Assessment
  • Humans
  • Transportation* / methods
  • Walking