‘Climate change has the potential to reverse the health gains from economic development that have been made in recent decades – not just through the direct effects on health from a changing and more unstable climate, but through indirect means such as increased migration and reduced social stability.
‘However, our analysis clearly shows that by tackling climate change, we can also benefit health, and tackling climate change in fact represents one of the greatest opportunities to benefit human health for generations to come.’
Professor Anthony Costello, Commission co-chair, director of the University College London (UCL) Institute for Global Health, UK
There are also health benefits from changes to diet which might arise from a concerted effort to tackle climate change, such as eating less red meat.
Responding to a grave threat
The commission concludes that a strong international consensus is essential to move the world to a global low-carbon economy, harnessing a crucial opportunity to protect human health, particularly of the poorest and most vulnerable populations, who stand to be hardest hit by the effects of climate change.
‘The health community has responded to many grave threats to health in the past. It took on entrenched interests such as the tobacco industry, and led the fight against HIV/AIDS. Now is the time for us to lead the way in responding to another great threat to human and environmental health of our generation.’
Professor Peng Gong, Tsinghua University, Beijing, Commission co-chair
In addition to presenting a detailed analysis of the impact of climate change on human health and wider social and economic structures, the report also provides a clear set of recommendations for policy makers to enable an effective response to climate change that protects and promote human health.
Countdown to 2030
The Commission represents a major new collaboration between European and Chinese climate scientists and geographers, social and environmental scientists, biodiversity experts, engineers and energy policy experts, economists, political scientists and public policy experts, and health professionals.
As a result of the Commission’s work, the authors propose the formation of a new global independent body on climate change and health (‘Countdown to 2030: Climate Change and Health Action’).
This global coalition will monitor and report every two years on the health impacts of climate change, progress in mitigation policies and their interaction with health, and progress with broader actions to reduce population vulnerability, to build climate resilience, and to implement low carbon, sustainable health systems.
Click here to read the 2015 UCL-Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change report.