COP28 - a renewed focus on climate and health?
There have been numerous and increasing calls to link up climate and health, and for the first time this year, COP28 will have a Health Day and health-inter ministerial meeting with promises to elevate attention to health and climate issues.
On the 08 November, ahead of this year’s UN summit, P4P partnered with the APPG on Global Health on an event in parliament to explore the health impacts of climate change and practical policy actions that can be taken to address them, just ahead of the King’s Speech debate in the Lords covering housing, health, local communities and public services.
The session was chaired by Baroness Northover, and included speakers from the Lancet and Wellcome Trust, who discussed the key findings of the 2023 Lancet Countdown report, an annual report dedicated to monitoring the evolving links between health and climate change.
Key discussion points at the event included the need for greater public awareness of the long-term impacts of extreme heat on the human body, and the increased risks of zoonotic diseases and concerns around future outbreaks of Dengue fever in Europe. The meeting also heard how climate change is resulting in an increase in mental health conditions, such as solastalgia which is a condition caused by experience of disruption to a person’s home environment, such as by extreme weather events.
Key stats from this year’s Lancet Countdown Report include:
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.
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.
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.
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 could have been prevented by transitioning to clean, renewable energy.
Even if the global temperature rise is limited to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, already by mid-century heat-related deaths are projected to increase by 370% and heat-related labour loss is projected to increase by 50%, and 524.9 million additional people are projected to experience moderate to severe food insecurity.
Health centred climate action is essential today and could render immediate health benefits – deaths attributable to fossil fuel derived air pollution have decreased by 17.7% since 2005. 80% of this reduction resulted from reduced coal-derived pollution.