The 2023 Report of the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change
The imperative for a health-centred response in a world facing irreversible harms
Climate change is claiming lives and livelihoods.
Heat-related deaths of people over age 65 increased by 85% from 2000-2004…
….more than twice the increase expected if temperatures had not changed.
Heat exposure-related loss in labour capacity resulted in average potential income losses equivalent to $863 billion in 2022. Agricultural workers were most affected.
Compared with 1981–2010, the higher frequency of heatwave days and drought months was associated with 127 million more people experiencing moderate or severe food insecurity in 2021
The transmission potential for dengue by Aedes aegypti and albopictus increased by 28.6% and 27.7% respectively…
… and 12.7% more of the coastline was suitable for Vibrio transmission in 2022 than in 1982-2010, putting a record 1.4 billion people at risk.
The health risks of climate change are increasing across all dimensions monitored.
Yet, adaptation efforts been insufficient to protect people from the growing hazards, and global health inequities are growing
Only 70% of countries reported a high level of implementation of health emergency management capacities,
with big inequalities between Human Development Index country groups…
… and 27% of surveyed cities declared concerns over their health systems being overwhelmed by climate change
But new projections show this could be just an early glimpse to an increasingly dangerous future
Even if temperatures rise is limited to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, already by mid-century…
….heat-related deaths are projected to increase by 370%
….heat-related labour loss is projected to increase by 50%
….524.9 million additional people are projected to experience moderate to severe food insecurity
Urgent efforts are needed to ensure climate health hazards don’t exceed the capacity of our health-supportive systems to protect us
However, energy-related CO2 emissions grew 0.9% in 2022, to a record high.
Although renewable energy is growing fast, its use remains low and unequal.
While modern renewables contribute to 11% of the electricity produced in the wealthier countries…
…..they account for only 2.3% of that in the most underserved ones.
Due to the persistent use of polluting fuels, household air pollution led on average to 140 deaths per 100,000 across 62 countries in 2020
… and fuel-derived air pollution caused 1.9 million deaths in 2020 alone…
… deaths that we could have prevented by transitioning to clean, renewable energy.
Action to tackle our greenhouse gas emissions has never been more vital
But we are accelerating in the wrong direction
The strategies of the world’s 20 largest oil and gas companies as of early 2023 will result in emissions surpassing levels consistent with Paris Agreement goals by 173% by 2040…
… up from 112% in 2022.
78% of the countries assessed still promoted fossil fuel burning through net direct subsidies in 2020, for a net total of US$305 billion.
Across 2017-2021, the 40 banks that lend most to the fossil fuel sector invested a collective US$489 billion annually to the fossil fuel sector, and 52% have increased their lending since before the Paris Agreement entered into force.
Health-centred climate action is essential today, and could render immediate health benefits.
Some indicators show the way forward.
Deaths attributable to fossil fuel-derived air pollution have decreased by 17.7% since 2005. 80% of this reduction the resulted from reduced coal-derived pollution
The renewable energy sector grew to a historic high of 12.7 million employees in 2021.
…and lending to the green energy sector rose to US$498 billion in 2021, now approaching fossil fuel lending.
Scientific evidence is growing, with three times as many scientific papers investigating the links between health and climate change in 2022 compared to 2012.
International organisations are increasingly engaging with the health co-benefits of mitigation.
And 95% of updated Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement now reference health – up from 73% in 2020.
The ambitions of the Paris Agreement are still achievable, and a prosperous future is possible.
But it will take immediate action to transition away from fossil fuels and tackle our emissions…
…to ensure a liveable future stays within reach.
To explore the data and the full report in further detail, visit lancetcountdown.org