Millions of lives could be saved by aggressive efforts to cut carbon emissions, according to a report from doctors and health experts published in The Lancet.
Writing in the 2021 “Lancet Countdown” on health and climate change, the doctors say that the overshoot in emissions due to recovery from the coronavirus pandemic would “irreversibly prevent the world from meeting climate commitment” and “lock humanity into an increasingly extreme and unpredictable environment.”
“Promoting equitable climate change mitigation and universal access to clean energies could prevent millions of deaths annually from reduced exposure to air pollution, healthier diets, and more active lifestyles, and contribute to reducing health inequities globally” the report states.
According to the report, people over the age of 65 experienced 3 billion more person-days of heatwave exposure because of record temperatures last year, while people younger than one year faced 626 million more person-days.
In 2021, people in both age demographics were the most affected by the record-breaking heatwave earlier this year that affected the northwest areas of the United States and Canada.
Rising temperatures and altered rainfall patterns are beginning to reverse years of progress in tackling food and water insecurity, the report warned. Changing environmental conditions are also increasing the sustainability of many airborne, food-borne and water-borne pathogens.
Of the $1.9 trillion directed towards economic recovery for the coronavirus pandemic, only 18 percent are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The release of the report comes ahead of the upcoming United Nation’s COP26 conference in Glasglow, which is slated to start Oct. 31.
The Lancet isn’t the first medical journal to raise awareness of the impact of climate change on human health. Last month, a coalition of medical journals decried climate change as a threat to public health.