Climate Change Endangering Health and Lives of Millions, IPCC Report Finds

With every degree of global warming, the health and lives of millions of more people are being put further at risk.

Weather, global warming and climate change. Source: NASA

That is the conclusion of the most comprehensive assessment of the science of climate change to date. The IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C was published today at a meeting of governments in Incheon, the Republic of Korea.

The report was produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a body set up to provide a clear scientific view for governments on the causes, impacts and solutions to rising temperatures.

It is now the scientific consensus that global warming affects human health, causes the loss of millions of lives and is a poverty multiplier,” states Arthur Wyns from Climate Tracker, co-author of the 1.5 Health Report, which synthesises the findings on health in the IPCC report.

The report makes clear that the lower the warming, the safer for health. As we pass 1.5C, 2C, or even higher, the risks to health multiply,” adds Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum from the World Health Organization, who also co-authored the 1.5 Health Report.

The world has already passed one degree of warming as carbon emissions have risen continuously since the 1850s. The IPCC 1.5 report now confirms that the current degree of global warming has already exacerbated human health factors, such as extreme weather events, heat waves, food security and sustainable development, and will worsen with rising temperatures.

Although risks to human health and food production systems will be lower at 1.5°C than at 2°C of warming, warming of 1.5°C is not considered ‘safe’ for most nations and communities, the IPCC report finds.

At +1.5°C of warming, twice as many megacities as present are likely to become heat stressed, exposing an additional 350 million more people to deadly heat stress by 2050, the IPCC report states.

The impacts of 1.5°C would disproportionately affect disadvantaged and vulnerable populations through food insecurity, higher food prices, income losses, lost livelihood opportunities, adverse health impacts, and population displacements, according to the IPCC report.

Climate change is projected to be a poverty multiplier, and health risks that come with global warming are unevenly distributed, the IPCC report states.

There is a strong public health case for limiting warming to the greatest extent possible. Virtually all the strategies to limit climate change would improve human health,” states Andrew Shindell, a Coordinating Lead Author of the IPCC Special Report on 1.5.

Even with rapid mitigation, the world is projected to warm an additional 0.5C between 2030 and 2052 … this temperature change is expected to have widespread and significant negative consequences for human health, disproportionately affecting the poor and disadvantaged. This report underscores the need for increased ambitions for adaptation and mitigation,” states Kristie Ebi, Lead Author of the IPCC Special Report on 1.5 and co-author of the 1.5 Health Report.

What could be a better reason to tackle climate change than to improve and secure people’s lives? The SR1.5 underscores that climate change is happening now, affecting the lives and livelihoods of real people, and requires real solutions” states Arthur Wyns, co-author of the 1.5 Health Report.

The 1.5 Health report, providing a full synthesis of all findings on health in the IPCC SR1.5 report, can be found on:

http://climatetracker.org/ipcc-report-on-health/

Andrew Shindell, Coordinating Lead Author of the IPCC report

The clearest effects of climate change on health are increased adverse impacts of heat and fires, of undernutrition, and of air pollution.”

The IPCC Special Report on 1.5° describes pathways to reduce the magnitude of climate change, which show what has to be done to reduce the adverse health impacts of climate change.”

Virtually all the strategies to limit climate change would improve human health.”

Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, Coordinator, Climate Change and Health at the World Health Organization and co-author of the 1.5 Health Report

“The report makes clear that the lower the warming, the safer for health. As we pass 1.5C, 2C, or even higher, the risks to health multiply.

“It [the report] also makes clear that there are big “cobenefits” of the actions that we need to stay below 1.5C warming. The faster we cut emissions of carbon into the atmosphere, the more lives we can save from reducing air pollution, which currently causes 1 in 8 deaths globally.”

The path that we take to stay under 1.5C is important. People are more likely to support actions that also give us cleaner air, greener and more livable cities, and healthier and more sustainable diets.”

Kristie Ebi, Lead Author of the IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C and co-author of the 1.5 Health Report

Mitigation pathways consistent with keeping warming to 1.5°C are expected to have robust synergies for public health, particularly for mitigation options focused on energy supply and demand.

There is an urgent need to increase the level of adaptation ambition over the next couple of decades. Even with rapid mitigation, the world is projected to warm an additional 0.5C between 2030 and 2052. Without additional adaptation, this temperature change is expected to have widespread and significant negative consequences for human health, disproportionately affecting the poor and disadvantaged, even under a mitigation pathway to keep warming below 1.5C.” “Health systems need to rapidly increase their transition to climate resiliency to manage projected reductions in food quality and security, increases in water stress, increases in the magnitude and frequency of selected extreme weather and climate events, increases in the geographic range of malaria and dengue, and changes in the burdens of other climate-sensitive health outcomes. This report underscores the need for increased ambitions for adaptation and mitigation.

Arthur Wyns, external reviewer of the IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C and co-author of the 1.5 Health Report

“The IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C shows that that the greater the warming, the greater the risks to health overall.It proves that there can be important health gains from the actions that will be necessary to limit warming.And it show that the speed of reducing emissions will influence how much and how fast we will all have to adapt to a changing climate.”

“But ultimately, the report supports a positive vision of a world which safeguards the climate- and is a safer and healthier place to live.”

Anne Stauffer, Director for Strategy and Campaigns at the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL)

“Climate action is all about opportunities for health: decarbonising our lives is entirely possible and will make this world a healthier, more prosperous and sustainable place. Ensuring a limit of 1.5 degree Celsius instead of 2 would mean less health-threatening extreme weather events, chronically ill people, less hospital admissions, less deaths and less financial burden on our societies.”

Jian Liu,Chief Scientist at UN Environment, stated at the opening of the 48th session of the IPCC:

Pollution today causes more victims than world war II, air pollution accounts for more than half—92% of the world population suffer air pollution, and economic loss each year is equivalent to the GDP of Japan! Climate warming and air pollution are twins, with multi-faceted interlinkages. It could also provide the opportunity to achieve Co-benefits, through initiatives such as the Clean Air and Climate Coalition.

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