Health and Climate Change: policy responses to protect public health Page: 1,861
The following text was automatically extracted from the image on this page using optical character recognition software:
Health and Climate Change: policy responses to protect public health
Nick Watts, WNeilAdger, PaoloAgnolucc Jason Blackstock, PeterByass, Wenjia Ca, Sarah Chaytor, Tim Cobourn, Mat Collins, Adam Cooper, PeterM Cox, Joanna
Dep/edge, Paul Drummond, Paul Ekins, Victor Gaaz, Della Grace, Hilaiy Graham, Michael Grubb, Andy Haines, Ian Hamilton, Aasdair Hunter, XujiaJiang Moxuan L, ilan
Kelman, Lu Liang Melissa Lott, Robert Lowe, YongLuo, Georgina Mace, Mark Maslin, Maria Nilsson, TadjOreszczyn, Steve Pye, Tara Quinn, MySvensdotter, Sergey
Venevsky, Koko Warner, BingXu, Jun Yang Yongyuan Yin, ChaoqingYu, QiangZhang PengGong*, Hugh Montgomey*, Anthony Costello*
The 2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change has been formed to map out the impacts of climate change, and the necessary
policy responses, in order to ensure the highest attainable standards of health for populations worldwide. This Commission is multi-disciplinary
and international in nature, with strong collabor-ation between academic centres in Europe and China.
The central finding from the Commission's work is that tackling climate change could be the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st
century. The key messages from the Commission are summarised below, accompanied by ten underlying recommendations to accelerate action
in the next 5 years.
The effects of climate change are being felt today, and future projections represent an unacceptably high and potentially catastrophic risk to human
The implications of climate change for a global population of 9 billion people threatens to undermine the last half century of gains in
development and global health. The direct effects of climate change include increased heat stress, floods, drought, and increased frequency of
intense storms, with the indirect threatening population health through adverse changes in air pollution, the spread of disease vectors, food
insecurity and under-nutrition, displacement, and mental ill health.
Keeping the global average temperature rise to less than 2C to avoid the risk of potentially catastrophic climate change impacts requires
total anthropogenic carbon dioxide (C02) emissions to be kept below 2900 billion tonnes (GtCO2) by the end of the century. As of 2011, total
emissions since 1870 were a little over half of this, with current trends expected to exceed 2900 GtCO2 in the next 15-30 years. High-end
emissions projection scenarios show global average warming of 26-4 8C by the end of the century, with all their regional amplification and
Tackling climate change could be the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century
Given the potential of climate change to reverse the health gains from economic development, and the health co-benefits that accrue from actions
for a sustainable economy, tackling climate change could be the greatest global health opportunity of this century. Many mitigation and
adaptation responses to climate change are "no-regret" options, which lead to direct reductions in the burden of ill-health, enhance community
resilience, alleviate poverty, and address global inequity. Benefits are realised by ensuring that countries are unconstrained by climate change,
enabling them to achieve better health and wellbeing for their populations. These strategies will also reduce pressures on national health budgets,
delivering potentially large cost savings, and enable investments in stronger, more resilient health systems.
The Commission recommends that over the next 5years, governments:
1 Invest in climate change and public health research, monitoring, and surveillance to ensure a better understanding of the adaptation needs and
the potential health co-benefits of climate mitigation at the local and national level.
2 Scale-up financing for climate resilient health systems world-wide. Donor countries have a responsibility to support measures which reduce
the impacts of climate change on human wellbeing and support adaptation. This must enable the strengthening of health systems in low-
income and middle-income countries, and reduce the environmental impact of health care.
3 Protect cardiovascular and respiratory health by ensuring a rapid phase out of coal from the global energy mix. Many of the 2200 coal-
fired plants currently proposed for construction globally will damage health unless replaced with cleaner energy alternatives. As part of
the transition to renewable energy, there will be a cautious transitional role for natural gas. The phase out of coal is prop osed as part of an
early and decisive policy package which targets air pollution from the transport, agriculture, and energy sectors, and aims t o reduce the
health burden of particulate matter (especially PM2.5) and short-lived climate pollutants, thus yielding immediate gains for society.
4 Encourage a transition to cities that support and promote lifestyles that are healthy for the individual and for the planet. Steps to achieve this
include development of a highly energy efficient building stock; ease of low-cost active transportation; and increased access to green spaces.
Such measures improve adaptive capacity, whilst also reducing urban pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and rates of cardiovascular
disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, mental illness, and respiratory disease.
Achieving a decarbonised global economy and securing the public health benefits it offers is no longer primarily a technical or economic question-it is
now a political one
Major technical advances have made buildings and vehicles more efficient and renewable energy sources far more cost effective. Globally, there
is plentiful financial resource available, however much of it is still being directed towards the fossil-fuel industry. Bold political commitment can
ensure that the technical expertise, technology, and finance to prevent further significant climate change is readily available, and is not a barrier
The Commission recommends that overthe next 5years, governments:
5 Establish the framework for a strong, predictable, and international carbon pricing mechanism.
6 Rapidly expand access to renewable energy in low-income and middle-income countries, thus providing reliable electricity for communities
and health facilities; unlocking substantial economic gains; and promoting health equity. Indeed, a global development pathway that fails to
achieve this expansion will come at a detriment to public health, and will not achieve long-term economic growth.
7 Accurate quantification of the avoided burden of disease, reduced health-care costs, and enhanced economic productivity is essential, and will
be most effective when combined with adequate local capacity and political support to develop low-carbon healthy energy choices.
The health community has a vital part to play in accelerating progress to tackle climate change
Health professionals have worked to protect against health threats, such as tobacco, HIV/AIDS, and polio, and have often confronted powerful
entrenched interests in doing so. Likewise, they must be leaders in responding to the health threat of climate change. A public health
perspective has the potential to unite all actors behind a common cause-the health and wellbeing of our families, communities, and countries.
These concepts are far more tangible and visceral than tonnes of atmospheric C02, and are understood and prioritised across all populations
irrespective of culture or development status.
Reducing inequities within and between countries is crucial to promoting climate change resilience and improving global health. Neither can be
delivered without accompanying sustainable development that addresses key health determinants: access to safe water and clean air, food security,
Here’s what’s next.
This article can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.
Tools / Downloads
Get a copy of this page or view the extracted text.
Citing and Sharing
Basic information for referencing this web page. We also provide extended guidance on usage rights, references, copying or embedding.
Reference the current page of this Article.
Watts, Nick; Adger, W. Neil; Agnolucci, Paolo; Blackstock, Jason; Byass, Peter; Cai, Wenjia et al. Health and Climate Change: policy responses to protect public health, article, June 22, 2015; Amsterdam, The Netherlands. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1234369/m1/1/: accessed March 20, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT College of Arts and Sciences.