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expert reaction to The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change

The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change is an annual, comprehensive analysis of progress across 40 indicators on climate change and health.

A briefing accompanied this roundup.


Dr Clare Goodess, Senior Researcher, Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia, said:

“The title of this report refers to 25 years of inaction but the speed with which so many leading global institutions have come together over the last couple of years to identify and produce this comprehensive and authoritative set of indicators is impressive as well as very timely. The indicators reflect the breadth of the transformation that is required to address these public health issues by not only considering the direct and indirect impacts of climate change on health, but also considering adaptation and mitigation issues, as well as economic and finance issues as the world moves from a fossil-fuel driven to a low carbon economy.

“The indicators reveal some stark warnings for human health as well as some glimmers of hope. Crucially, these indicators will be published and reviewed annually until 2030 so progress can be clearly monitored.

“The authors acknowledge the need to continually improve and develop the indicators – but the key messages for 2017 appear robust. As the authors say, more work is needed to improve the attribution of these observed changes to climate change. However, many of the most dramatic trends in health impacts are related to rising temperature and more frequent high-temperature extremes. The attribution of these temperature trends to human activities is now unequivocal so the urgency of addressing the issues raised by this report is not in doubt.”


* ‘The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change’ will be published on Monday 30 October 2017.


Declared interests

Dr Goodess: “I’m currently doing some work for WHO based around an ongoing series of health and climate profiles – our WHO contacts are Tara Neville and Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, and Joy Shumake-Guillemot is a WMO advisor on the project team. This project is referred to in Panel 5 of the report, though the report does not use any data provided by UEA.I’ve had some involvement in a close to finished project, and have a new project from January 2018 (in final stages of contract negotiation with the funder), involving Michael Davies, Andy Haines, James Milner, Paul Wilkinson, Markus Amann and Paul Ekins. I have provided climate projection data to James Milner for use in the SHUE project – work which is currently being written up (with Mike Davies, Andy Haines and Paul Wilkinson as co-authors).All the people named above are authors of the Lancet Countdown report.”

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