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Global experts report on climate change and health

Posted on 31 October 2017

A University of York academic is one of the expert speakers at the launch of a major report on global progress in addressing health and climate change.

Professor Hilary Graham, of York’s Department of Health Sciences, is speaking at the London launch of the Lancet Countdown’s 2017 report - one of a number of events taking place around the world today.

The Lancet Countdown is a global collaboration between 24 academic institutions, including the University of York, and inter-governmental organisations.  It is tracking climate change and health over time and the implications for commitments made by governments under the Paris Climate Agreement.

The Lancet Countdown is focusing on five areas, including the health impacts of climate change, mitigation actions, and public and political engagement in health and climate change. 

Damaging health

Professor Graham co-ordinates work on the Countdown’s indicators on public and political engagement.

She said: “Climate change is already damaging people's health and undermining the future for their children.  The 2017 Lancet Countdown presents new analyses of these impacts - and highlights ways of tackling climate change and protecting health at the same time.”

The Paris Climate Agreement, which came into force in 2016, is regarded as a turning point in how the world responds to what the UN describes as ‘the defining challenge of our time’.

It set the world an ambitious commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit climate change to well below a global average temperature rise of 2°C above pre-industrial levels, with an aim to limit temperature increases to 1.5°C.  So far, however, the national commitments made by governments fall short of the necessary reductions to meet the 2°C pathway.

Climate change

It is against this background that the Lancet Countdown is tracking the health impacts of climate change and progress to limit climate change and protect health.  It is using a set of indicators to be monitored annually to 2030.

Countdown indicators include exposure to temperature change and heatwaves, national spending on climate change adaptation for health, coal phase-out and access to clean energy, media coverage of health and climate change, and the focus given to health and climate change at the UN General Assembly.

Today’s London event provides an opportunity to hear from leaders in global public health and from the report’s authors about their findings, and their implications for health professionals, governments, and the UN climate change negotiations.

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