The 2022 Global Report of the Lancet Countdown

The health of people around the world is at the mercy of a persistent fossil fuel addiction.

People around the world are increasingly feeling the impact of climate change on their health and wellbeing and these compounding crises are amplifying those harms. Yet governments and companies in both high- and low-income countries continue to prioritise fossil fuel interests.

This year’s report launches as countries and health systems grapple with the health, social and economic implications of climate change, which now compound the impacts of the  the global energy crisis, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Our 2022 Report tracks the relationship between health and climate change across five key domains and 43 indicators, revealing that the world is at a critical juncture.

While a renewed overreliance on fossil fuels could lock in a fatally warmer future with exacerbated health impacts, a health-centred, low-carbon response offers a renewed opportunity to deliver a future in which world populations can not only survive, but thrive.

Explore the interactive summary of the key findings here

Need all the details? Download the full report

Key message

A persistent fossil fuel addiction is amplifying the health impacts of climate change, and compounding  the concurrent energy, cost-of-living,  food, and COVID-19 crises we face.

Climate change is exacerbating food insecurity, health impacts from extreme heat, the risk of infectious disease outbreaks, and life-threatening extreme weather events.

The delay in the adoption of clean energies has left households dependent on dirty fuels, vulnerable to energy poverty, and exposed to dangerous levels of fuel-derived air pollution.

These impacts are compounding with today’s multiple, concurrent crises.

Key message

Governments and companies continue to prioritise the fossil fuels above, and to the detriment, of peoples’ health, jeopardising a liveable future.

Governments continue to subsidise fossil fuels to a sum of hundreds of billions of dollars annually –for sums comparable to their total health budgets. Meanwhile, a profound lack of funding undermines a just transition towards affordable, healthy, zero-carbon energy.

Meanwhile, fossil fuel companies are pursuing plans which would lead to emissions vastly exceeding Paris Agreement goals – if fulfilled, their strategies could lock the world into a fatally warmer future.

Key message

The world faces a critical juncture. A health-centred, aligned  response to the compounding crises can still deliver a future where people can not only survive, but thrive.

As countries device responses to the compounding crises, a renewed dependence on fossil fuels could lock-in a fatally warmer future.

However, in their response lies a new opportunity. Decision makers can today still deliver more resilient energy systems, saving at least 1.2 million lives from cleaner air, 11.5 million lives from healthier diets, reducing energy poverty, and delivering healthier, more liveable cities.

The just transition to a healthy future can no longer be delayed.

Explore key findings of this year’s report

Icon_1_Green Created with Sketch.

Health Hazards, Exposures, and Impacts

Climate Change Impacts, Exposure and Vulnerability

A changing climate has profound implications for human health, with more frequent heatwaves and extreme weather events, changing patterns of infectious disease, and the exacerbation of existing health challenges around the world. Indicators in this section track how these impact on human health.

Icons Final_Green-03 Created with Sketch.

Adaptation, Planning, and Resilience for Health

Adaptation, Planning, and Resilience for Health

Indicators in this section track how communities, health systems, and governments are understanding the health risks of climate change, the strategies and resources they are deploying, and how adaptation and resilience measures are being implemented globally.

Icons Final_Green_v2-03 Created with Sketch.

Mitigation Actions and Health Co-Benefits

THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF THE RESPONSE TO CLIMATE CHANGE

Tackling climate change could be the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century. Many of the interventions required to mitigate and adapt bring enormous benefits for human health and wellbeing in the form of cleaner air, healthier diets, and more liveable cities. Indicators in this section track the world’s efforts to mitigate climate change, and the health benefits of this response.

Icons Final_Green_v2-05 Created with Sketch.

Economics and Finance

Economics and Finance

The data here works to track the financial and economic dimensions of the effects of climate change, and of mitigation efforts required to respond to these changes. Indicators here monitor the economic costs of climate change and its drivers, as well as the investments and economic tools being deployed to transition to a low-carbon economy.

Icons Final_Green_v2-06 Created with Sketch.

Public and Political Engagement

Public and Political Engagement

Public and political engagement underpins the foundations of the world’s collective response to climate change, with reductions in global emissions at the speed required by the Paris Agreement depending on engagement from all sectors of society. The indicators in this section track the links between health and climate change in the media, national governments, the corporate sector, and the broader public.

  • Icon_1_Green Created with Sketch. Health Hazards, Exposures, and Impacts
    • 1.1.2 Exposure of Vulnerable Populations to Heatwaves

      Vulnerable populations – the elderly and children under 1 year of age - faced 3.7 billion more life-threatening heatwave days in 2021 than annually in 1986-2005, putting them at acute risk of heat stress, heat stroke, and other adverse physical and mental health manifestations.

    • 1.2.1 Wildfires

      Drier and hotter weather is making conditions increasingly suitable for the start and spread of wildfires, putting people' s health and safety at risk. Human exposure to days of very-high or extremely-high fire danger increased in 61% of countries from 2001–2004 to 2018–2021.

    • 1.2.2 Drought

      Droughts put food and water security at risk, threaten sanitation, affect livelihoods, and increase the risk of wildfires and infectious disease transmission. On average, 29% more global land area was affected by extreme drought for at least one month in a year in 2012–21 than in 1951–60

    • 1.3 Climate Suitability for Infectious Disease Transmission

      Climate change is affecting the distribution and transmission of many infectious diseases, including vector-borne, food-borne, and waterborne diseases. The climatic suitability for the transmission of dengue increased by 11·5% for Aedes aegypti and 12·0% for Aedes albopictus from 1951–60 to 2012–21

    • 1.4 Food Security and Undernutrition

      The increasing frequency of heatwaves resulted in an additional 98 million people reporting moderate to medium food insecurity in the 103 countries analysed in 2020, compared to the 1981-2010 average. This threatens to compound the impacts on food insecurity of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the energy and cost of living crises.

  • Icons Final_Green-03 Created with Sketch. Adaptation, Planning, and Resilience for Health
    • 2.1.1 National Assessments of Climate Change Impacts, Vulnerability and Adaptation for Health/2.1.2 National Adaptation Plans for Health

      nsufficient climate change adaptation efforts have left health systems vulnerable to climate change-related health hazards. Only 48 of 95 countries have completed a climate change and health vulnerability and adaptation assessment, and in only 9 countries did these strongly influenced resource allocation.

    • 2.2.3 Urban Green Space

      Healthy and green urban redesign will promote physical activity and deliver more friendly, liveable cities. Today, just 27% of urban centres are classified as moderately-green or above.

    • 2.2.5 Detection, Preparedness and Response to Health Emergencies

      Even after the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, only 63% of 177 countries reported high to very high implementation status for health emergency management in 2021, with only 35% of low or medium Human Development Index countries doing so.

  • Icons Final_Green_v2-03 Created with Sketch. Mitigation Actions and Health Co-Benefits
    • 3.1 Energy System and Health

      Energy systems are the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions and are major contributors to air pollution. CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion reached a record high in 2020. The carbon intensity from the energy system decreased by less than 1% since the year countries came together to adopt the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

    • 3.2 Clean Household Energy

      Dirty fuels still dominate the energy used in the domestic sector. Just 13% of rural households in low Human Development Index (HDI) countries had access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking in 2020, against 98% in high HDIcountries. In the 63 countries assessed, the air in people’s homes exceeded WHO small particulate pollution (PM2.5) guideline levels by 30-fold in 2020

    • 3.3 Premature Mortality from Ambient Air Pollution by Sector

      Transition towards sustainable energy, transportation, waste management and agricultural systems could help prevent the 3·3 million deaths attributable to anthropogenic PM2.5 in 2020, including the 1·2 million directly related to the combustion of fossil fuels

  • Icons Final_Green_v2-05 Created with Sketch. Economics and Finance
    • 4.1.3 Loss of Earnings from Heat-Related Labour Capacity Loss

      Heat exposure in 2021 led to income losses equivalent to substantial proportions of countries’ GDP (5.6% in the case of low Human Development Index countries), worsening the impact of the cost-of-living crisis, and worsening the socioeconomic conditions that contribute to good health.

    • 4.2.4 Net Value of Fossil Fuel Subsidies and Carbon Prices

      Despite their profound health harms, governments continue to encourage fossil fuel production and consumption. 69 (80%) of 86 countries reviewed had net-negative carbon prices (ie, provided a net subsidy to fossil fuels) for a net total of US$400 billion. These subsidies exceeded 10% of national health spending in 31 countries and exceeded 100% in 5 countries

    • 4.2.6 Compatibility of Fossil Fuel Company Strategies With the Paris Agreement

      Despite climate commitments to reduce their carbon impact, on the basis of their existing production strategies and market shares, 15 of the largest oil and gas companies would exceed their share of greenhouse gas emissions compatible with the 1·5°C climate target by an average of 87% (publicly-listed international companies) and 111% (state-owned national companies) in 2040, making the goals of the Paris Agreement unattainable

  • Icons Final_Green_v2-06 Created with Sketch. Public and Political Engagement
    • 5.1 Media Coverage of Health and Climate Change

      Media articles are a widely used source of public information that influence public perceptions on climate change, governments, and the social media agenda. Coverage of health and climate change in the media increased by 4.7% in 2021 from 2020, reaching a record high.

    • 5.4 Government Engagement in Health and Climate Change

      Government engagement with health and climate change is essential for health-centred climate action. Engagement with health and climate change from world leaders has increased since 2020, with 60% of countries drawing attention to climate change and health in the 2021 UN General Debate, and 86% of the updated NDC submissions referring to health

News and Events

event

23/12/2022

Find a local Lancet Countdown 2022 launch event near you

Find a local launch near you to explore the consequences of delayed climate action for public health, and the health, economic and societal opportunities of a robust and rapid response.

Read more

news

23/10/2022

The Key Findings of the 2022 Report

Explore the interactive virtual summary of the 2022 report key messages and data

Read more

news

12/08/2022

VACANCY: We are seeking a Policy Analyst to join our team!

The Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change is seeking to appoint a Policy Analyst to join our team.

Read more

news

19/07/2022

UK heatwave: Extreme heat an increasing threat to health without rapid transition away from fossil fuels

The extreme heat in the UK and across Europe is threatening peoples’ health, warn health organisations today.

Read more