COP27: Climate change threatens global health

Smoke escaping from 3 fireplaces in front of the bright, foggy sun

Climate change has a serious impact on the health of people around the world, according to a report from a leading medical publication.

The Lancet Countdown report states that the world’s continued dependence on fossil fuels increases the risk of food insecurity, infectious diseases and heat-related diseases.

United Nations Secretary General António Guterres replied that global leaders must adapt action to the scale of the problem.

Leaders will meet for the big COP27 climate conference in Egypt next month.

The report includes the work of 99 experts from organizations including the World Health Organization (WHO) and led by University College London.

It describes how extreme weather has increased the pressure on health services globally already struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Heat-related deaths have increased by two-thirds globally over the past two decades, he notes.

Temperature records were broken around the world in 2022, including in the UK, where 40 ° C was recorded in July, as well as parts of Europe, Pakistan and China.

The health impacts of extreme heat include exacerbating conditions such as cardiovascular and respiratory disease and the cause of heatstroke and poor mental health.

But he said there are solutions. “Despite the challenges, there is strong evidence that immediate action could still save the lives of millions of people, with a rapid shift to clean energy and energy efficiency,” the report concludes.

Guterres said the world is watching the G20 countries, which produce 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions. They need to step up their efforts to reduce emissions and lead the way by investing more in renewable energy, he added.

“Human health, livelihoods, family budgets and national economies are being pummeled as dependence on fossil fuels spiral out of control,” he said.

Analysis Box by Justin Rowlatt, Climate Editor

Analysis Box by Justin Rowlatt, Climate Editor

Today’s Lancet report is a call to arms.

The authors hope that the evidence presented shows the need for urgent action at the United Nations climate conference in Egypt.

But the summit faces strong headwinds.

Developing countries will ask nations that have grown rich using fossil fuels to raise more money to meet the costs of the losses and damage our climate change is causing.

And what about the $ 100 billion a year for climate action that developed countries should have made available from 2020, they will ask? We are still billions of dollars below the total.

The Egyptians guests of COP27 warned of a “crisis of confidence”.

But the developed world is struggling with a cost-of-living crisis due to soaring energy and food prices. Many of them are already spending billions on military support for Ukraine.

Get ready for some heated debates in Egypt.

A UNICEF report, also released Wednesday, warns that urgent action is needed to increase funding to protect children and vulnerable communities from escalating heatwaves.

The researchers found that climate change has increased the spread of infectious diseases. The number of months facilitating the transmission of malaria has increased in the mountainous areas of the Americas and Africa over the past 60 years.

Fossil fuel emissions are the main culprits of air pollution. Lancet Countdown data estimates that exposure to air pollution contributed to 4.7 million deaths globally in 2020, of which 1.3 million (35%) directly related to the burning of fossil fuels.

The impacts of climate change are also rapidly exacerbating and exacerbating the effects of other coexisting crises such as food insecurity, energy poverty and rising air pollution, he says.

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