The world is edging closer to multiple tipping points that will drive temperature change well above 2°C. The Antarctic ice-shelf has contracted by almost 2% since 1997. And Heat-related mortality increased by 68% between 2017 and 2021 compared 2000-2004. Da The Lancet.
For more than a decade, through Lancet Commissions and Series, we have sought to connect the developing climate crisis to human health. The centrepiece of this work has been the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change, whose latest report we publish this week. The Countdown is the only independent monitoring mechanism for climate and health. Its findings are gloomy: “Climate change is undermining every dimension of global health”, write Marina Romanello and colleagues. The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened an already bad situation. Food security has weakened. Health systems have been rendered more vulnerable. Energy resources remain dangerously reliant on fossil fuels. The adoption of renewable technologies is too slow. Heavily subsidised oil and gas companies are exceeding greenhouse gas emissions compatible with Paris targets. Yet there are some slim reasons for optimism. The scientific community, media, businesses, and political leaders are increasingly taking climate and health more seriously. There is a growing recognition that a health-centred response offers a healthy, low-carbon future. But the overall picture is not a positive one.