The 2022 Report of the Lancet Countdown:
Health at the Mercy of Fossil Fuels
This year’s report finds that a persistent fossil fuel addiction is amplifying the health impacts of the concurrent crises we face.
Extreme heatwaves in 2020 associated with 98 million more people suffering from food insecurity than annually in 1981-2010.
And people from vulnerable age groups were exposed to 3.7 billion more heatwave days in 2021 than annually in 1986–2005.
Heat exposure led to leading to 470 billion potential labour hours lost globally in 2021…
…with associated potential income losses of US$ 669 billion in total.
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 1951–1960.
and human exposure to days with very-high or extremely-high fire danger increased in 61% of countries from 2001–2004 to 2018–2021.
Life-threatening extreme weather events are becoming increasingly frequent.
And the weather conditions are becoming more suitable for the spread of infectious diseases.
The likelihood of dengue transmission rose by 12% from 1951–1960 to 2012–2021.
Meanwhile, the delay in uptake and inequitable access to clean energies has left households dependent on dirty fuels…
…vulnerable to the rising fossil fuel prices, the health harms of exposed to energy poverty…
…and breathing dangerous levels of fuel-derived air pollution inside their homes.
Despite these health harms, governments and companies continue prioritising fossil fuels to the detriment of peoples’ health
Despite commitments, the carbon intensity of the global energy system decreased by less than 1% since 1992, the year the UNFCCC was adopted.
And with increased energy consumption, energy-related emissions CO2 emissions reached a record high in 2021.
Governments around the world continue to subsidise fossil fuels to a sum of hundreds of billions of dollars annually.
In many cases for amounts comparable to, or even exceeding, their total health budgets.
Meanwhile, higher-income countries so far failed to deliver the US$100 billion committed to support a just transition…
…and a profound lack of funding undermines action towards a low-carbon, climate-resilient future.
Today, fossil fuel giants pursue plans which would lead to emissions vastly exceeding levels compatible with the Paris Agreement goals.
If these strategies are pursued, they would lock the world into a fatally warmer future with catastrophic health impacts.
As they cash record profits, the failure to reprioritise funding and invest in a healthy future becomes evident.
It doesn’t have to be this way
Today, a health-centred response to the compounding crises can still deliver a healthier future
Shifting away from fossil fuels could prevent the 1.2 million deaths resulting from exposure to fossil fuel-derived ambient PM2.5…
…the transition to renewable energy sources can help build more resilient energy grids and reduce energy poverty…
…delivering clean, healthy energy to people’s homes.
Green urban redesign will increase climate resilience…
…while improving physical and mental health through healthier, more liveable cities.
Transitioning to low-carbon, plant-rich diets could help prevent the 4.7 million from low intake of fruit and vegetables, and high intake of red meat and dairy.
There are some emerging glimmers of hope
Although total clean energy generation remains insufficient, it reached record high levels in 2020…
and zero-carbon sources accounted for over 80% of investment in electricity generation in 2021.
For the first time, direct and indirect employment in renewables exceeded direct employment in fossil fuel extraction industry, which recorded 10.5 million employees, reaffirming that renewable energy could support economic recovery and job security, now and in the future.
Public engagement with health aspects of climate change is at an all-time high. Coverage of health and climate change in the media increased every year.
There has been increased engagement from world leaders, with 60% of countries drawing attention to climate change and health in the 2021 UN General Debate, likely due to heightened awareness off the back of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the proportion of all extreme climate-related events that were deadly has increased since 1980…
…the average lethality per climate-related disaster has decreased.
After 30 years of UNFCCC negotiations, the Lancet Countdown indicators show that countries and companies continue to make choices that threaten the health and survival of people in every part of the world.
But at this critical juncture, an immediate, health-centred response can still secure a future in which world populations can not only survive…
To explore the data and the full report in further detail, visit lancetcountdown.org