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expert reaction to the lancet countdown on climate change and health

Reactions to The Lancet Countdown; a report that aims to monitor the health dimensions of climate change as published in The Lancet.

 

Dr Howard Frumkin, head of Wellcome’s Our Planet, Our Health programme said:

“The 2018 Lancet Countdown report provides solid evidence of the unprecedented scale of the Earth’s changing climate.  It is clear that climate change is directly impacting our health, with extreme heat for example, driving wildfires, crop failures, infectious diseases and costing lives all around the world.

“While there are signs of progress, we have to do better.  All sectors – from policymakers, to industry leaders, to the general public – must prioritise action on climate change if we are to significantly reduce the potentially devastating impact on our planet and our health, affecting generations to come.”

 

Dr Philip Staddon, Lecturer in Ecology and Environmental Science, The Open University, said:

“There is more to this research paper than temperature only.  Changes in precipitation are also very important in determining future health impacts of climate change.

“The research is sound and summarises the current state of knowledge accurately.

“Coal is mentioned, but surprisingly there is no mention of fracking.  The acknowledged need to move away from fossil fuels does not square with the recent efforts by many governments, including the UK, to expand fracking.  It would seem perverse to search for new fossil fuel sources when the aim is to move away from fossil fuels.

“China is mentioned as a good example of increasing use of electric vehicles, but no caveat as to where the electricity is coming from.  In China, much of the electricity for transport is coming from coal.

“The point that China is leading the way in many aspects is correct, but at the same time China is still building vast numbers of new coal power stations with working life spans of 20 to 30 years.”

 

‘The Lancet Countdown: tracking progress on health and climate change’ by Nick Watts et al. was published in The Lancet at 23.30 UK time on Wednesday 28th November 2018.

 

Declared interests

Dr Howard Frumkin: “The Wellcome Trust is a strategic partner for the Lancet Countdown, providing financial and technical support for its work.”

Dr Philip Staddon: “No conflict of interest – part of my research interests involve the impacts of climate change on human health.”

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