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Report outlines growing threats of climate change


A Lancet report published on Wednesday said that climate change poses a growing health threat in the coming decades.

According to this year's Lancet Countdown health and climate change report, even with overwhelming evidence of the health impacts of climate change, countries are not responding in proportion to the rising risks their populations face.

In 2019, a record high of nearly 345,000 heat-related deaths of people older than 65 occurred, which was 80.6 percent higher than the 2000-05 average.

In 2018, 9.6 million deaths were attributed to imbalanced diets in terms of both dietary composition and caloric intake, said the report by researchers from 43 academic institutions and United Nations agencies.

Climate change is affecting the distribution of animals, food and water borne diseases, the report said.

For example, the number of months suitable for malaria transmission increased by 39 percent between 1950-59 and 2010-19 in highland areas with low socioeconomic development.

"Climate change threatens human health and well-being through its effects on weather, ecosystems and human systems. These effects increase exposure to extreme events, change the environmental suitability for infectious disease transmission, alter population movements and undermine people's livelihoods and mental health," the report said.

The concurrent and interconnecting risks posed by extreme weather events, infectious disease transmission, and food, water and financial insecurity are over-burdening the most vulnerable populations.

Cai Wenjia, an associate professor from Tsinghua University's department of Earth system science and one of the report's authors, told that climate change can have various effects and pose multiple threats to humans.

The effects will last for decades or even centuries, but there is no quick way to prevent or control it. Even if the globe achieves the goals of the Paris Agreement, deaths from climate change will still exceed those from COVID-19, she was quoted as saying.

The agreement's goal is to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees C-preferably to 1.5 C-compared to pre-industrial levels.

As world economies recover from COVID-19, sufficient resources should be redirected toward health adaptation to build resilience to the increasing health threats of climate change.

The report suggests research is needed to identify current and future vulnerabilities and to predict risks from climate change at scales relevant for decision-making in different climate and development scenarios.

Also, promoting equitable climate change mitigation and universal access to clean energies could prevent millions of deaths annually from healthier diets, more active lifestyles and reduced exposure to air pollution.

Fossil fuel combustion within the energy system is the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions, with a global share of 65 percent, the report said.

The report said measures to curb emissions have been grossly inadequate, and emissions are declining too slowly or heading in the wrong direction in the highest emitting sectors.

The report coincides with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change 26th Conference of the Parties, also known as COP 26, at which countries are facing pressure to realize the ambition of the Paris Agreement and to mobilize the financial resources required for all countries to have an effective climate response.

From : China Daily

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