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Appendix 2  Scope of climate change impacts for human health: some previous reviews of evidence The IPCC assessment (Smith et al. 2014) lists heat- and cold-related impacts; floods and storms; ultraviolet radiation; vector-borne and other infectious diseases; food- and water-borne infections; air pollution; allergens; nutrition; occupational health concerns; mental health; violence and conflict. More recent IPCC work on comparing likely effects of 1.5°C and 2°C is discussed in Chapter 2. The European Commission’s Climate Adaptation Platform for Health73 identifies the main indicators for health in terms of extreme temperature; floods; air pollution; vector-borne diseases; and the urban environment. The EEA’s (2017) detailed analysis summarises the main effects of climate change on health as related to extreme weather events; changes in the distribution of climate-sensitive diseases; and changes in environmental and social conditions. Some of the indicators have recently been updated (EEA 2018). The EEA observes that quantitative projections of future climate-sensitive health risks are difficult owing to the complex relationship between climactic and non-climactic factors and future adaptation measures. WHO Europe (2017a,b) addresses direct impacts of high temperatures; extreme events; forest fires; floods and drought; and indirect effects via agriculture and food systems; conflict and migration. The WHO (2018) summarised key statistics and messages to contribute to the COP24 discussions. The US Global Change Research Program74 focuses on temperature-related deaths and illness; air quality impacts; extreme events; vector-borne diseases; water-related diseases; food safety, nutrition and distribution; and mental health and well-being. The World Economic Forum75 outputs agree that the main climate change impacts on global health will be attributed to high-temperature effects, particularly in urban heat-islands, and in exacerbating chronic conditions in those who are already vulnerable; air pollutants and respiratory disorders; vector-borne and zoonotic disorders; and effects mediated by food systems (malnutrition, food-borne and water-borne diseases). The Lancet Countdown initiative (Watts et al. 2018a,b) is tracking a set of indicators of progress on health and climate change, chosen for their relevance to public health and to the main anthropogenic drivers of climate change, their geographical coverage, data availability, resource and timing constraints. These indicators are divided into five broad sections: (1) climate change impacts, exposures and vulnerabilities; (2) adaptation planning and resilience for health; (3) mitigation actions and health co-benefits; (4) economics and finance; (5) public and political engagement. The 2017 Countdown assessment (Watts et al. 2018a) notes, ‘The delayed response to climate change over the past 25 years has jeopardised human health and livelihoods.’ Although the past 5 years have seen a growing response solidified in the Paris Agreement, the Lancet Countdown indicators demonstrate a world that is only just beginning to respond to climate change and hence only just unlocking the opportunities available for better health. The 2018 Countdown assessment (Watts et al. 2018b) again emphasises the global challenges, with stark and unequivocal messages, as follows. (1) Present changes in heatwaves, labour capacity, vector-borne disease and food security provide early warning of the compounded and overwhelming impacts on public health that are expected if temperature continues to rise. Trends show an unacceptably high level of risk for current and future health. (2) Lack of progress in reducing emissions and building adaptive capacity threatens both human lives and the viability of health systems. (3) Despite delays, some sectors (including power generation and transportation) have seen the beginning of lowcarbon transitions, and the nature and scale of the response will be the determining factor in shaping health for centuries to come. (4) Ensuring widespread understanding of climate change as the central public health issue will be crucial in delivering an accelerated response. This latest Countdown assessment concludes that there is ‘great cause for concern, with the pace of climate change outweighing the urgency of the response.’ 73 

https://climate-adapt.eea.europa.eu/eu-adaptation-policy/sector-policies/health. https://www.globalchange.gov/browse/reports/our-changing-planet-fy-2017. See also the US Fourth National Climate Assessment on https://www.globalchange.gov/nca4. 75  https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/01/what-is-climate-change-doing-to-our-health/. 74 

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Climate change and health  |  June 2019  |  51

The imperative of climate action to protect human health in Europe  

Opportunities for adaptation to reduce the impacts and for mitigation to capitalise on the benefits of decarbonisation. The pace and extent...

The imperative of climate action to protect human health in Europe  

Opportunities for adaptation to reduce the impacts and for mitigation to capitalise on the benefits of decarbonisation. The pace and extent...

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