To address environment and health concerns it is important to acknowledge the social and economic factors that act as major driving forces. Poverty is one of the main driving forces for unhealthy environmental conditions and a major determinant of health. The most severe environmental health problems affect countries and people who lack access to economic and other resources, and people who are affected by warfare or disasters. Those living in absolute poverty include a high proportion of children, women, refugees and other displaced persons. The environmental conditions of countries or regions where poverty is high, or which are suffering from the aftermath of war or civil unrest, require special attention. As long as poverty and economic inequity persist, the living conditions and environment and health status of millions of people will not improve.
(2) One objection to the internalization of health and environment costs is that it will result in an increase in some prices and that the poorest people will be affected. As with others, the less affluent derive part of their wellbeing from activities that degrade the environment. This is often less by choice than the result of ill-designed incentives: for instance, in some transition countries, energy consumption is subsidized. In some western European countries, the lack of a substantial policy of social housing in densely populated urban areas means that low-income families have to live in remote suburbs. They therefore depend on road transport for travel between home and work. Since charges for the use of cars in urban areas do not cover their full social costs, this is supposed to help these families. These two examples demonstrate subsidies that the rich also benefit from, often to a large extent.