The Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change, written by experts from around the world, launched today, reports three key findings:
- The effects of Climate Change are being felt today, pose a potentially catastrophic risk to human health, and have been underestimated
- The technologies and finance required to address the problem can be made available, but the political will to connect them is lacking, whilst
- Such action on Climate Change could be the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st Century: actions to reduce climate change are also good for health here and now.
Members of the UCL Energy Institute (UCL-Energy) and the RCUK Centre for Energy Epidemiology (CEE) CEE Director Tadj Oreszczyn, UCL-Energy Director Bob Lowe, Ian Hamilton (CEE) and Steve Pye (UCL Energy), along with Lu Liang and Jun Yang of Tsinghua University, focussed on transition to a low-carbon economy as part of Working Group Three.
Professor Bob Lowe said of the report:
“Climate Change has been acknowledged as one of the world’s most serious problems, with the long term potential to undo many of the gains in public health of the last 50 years. Actions to deal with it need to begin immediately, but effective global agreement has so far proven impossible to reach.
The Lancet Commission Report highlights the connections between climate change and health, which range from long term and global to the short term, local and regional. Such connections have the potential to turn risk into opportunity. In particular, addressing local and regional pollution problems provides governments with the economic and political arguments to reduce CO2 emissions even in the absence of global agreements. Such reasoning may be a partial explanation for the recent downturn in coal consumption in China, one of the more optimistic developments of the last year.”
Quotable Statements from the Commission Co-chairs:
Professor Anthony Costello says, “It’s clear that by tackling climate change, we can also benefit health. Climate change is in fact our greatest opportunity to benefit human health for generations to come.”
Professor Hugh Montgomery says, ”Climate Change is a medical emergency. It thus demands an emergency response, using the technologies available right now. Under such circumstances, no doctor would consider a series of annual case discussions and aspirations adequate.”
China’s Professor Peng Gong, from Tsinghua University, Beijing and Commission Co-Chair, says that adapting to climate change will have an enormous positive effect on health. “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. It’s time for us to lead the way in responding to the biggest threat to public health of our generation.”
Background to the Commission
The 2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change was formed to map out a comprehensive response to climate change – a ‘prescription’ to protect human health and survival worldwide. It represents a strong international, multidisciplinary collaboration between academic centres in Europe and China, including University College London (UCL), Tsinghua University in Beijing, Stockholm Resilience Centre, the UK Meteorological Office and the University of Exeter.
Full report is available on the website climatehealthcommission.org