A major new report has set out the health difficulties that will be faced by an entire generation if the world doesn’t reverse course on climate change.
Research from 35 global institutions, published in the Lancet Medical Journal, warns that children born today will face an average temperature rise of 4C by the time they are in their 70s.
The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change notes that they will face malnutrition, rising food prices and an increase in infectious diseases.
Meanwhile, worsening air quality will increase the risk of lung disease, heart attacks and stroke – with the healthcare costs in Europe alone reaching €129bn a year by the time current generation reaches old age.
Dr Nick Watts, Executive Director of The Lancet Countdown, said children are “particularly vulnerable to the health risks of a changing climate.”
“Their bodies and immune systems are still developing – leaving them more susceptible to disease and environmental pollutants,” he said.
“The damage done in early childhood is persistent and pervasive, with health consequences lasting for a lifetime.
“Without immediate action from all countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions, gains in wellbeing and life expectancy will be compromised and climate change will come to define the health of an entire generation.”
It will take the work of the 7.5 billion people currently alive to ensure the health of a child born today is not defined by a changing climate. Read the @LancetCountdown 2019 report on the state of #health & #climatechange across the 🌎 https://t.co/n58gAE6y4v #LancetClimate19
— The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change (@LancetCountdown) November 14, 2019
The annual report tracks progress across 41 key climate indicators mean for human health.
It is a collaboration between 120 experts from 35 major institutions around the world.
Lancet Countdown co-chair Professor Hugh Montgomery said the “accelerating impacts of climate change have become clearer than ever” in this year’s report.
“The highest recorded temperatures in Western Europe and wildfires in Siberia, Queensland, and California triggered asthma, respiratory infections and heat stroke.
“Sea levels are now rising at an ever concerning rate.
“Our children recognize this Climate Emergency and demand action to protect them. We must listen, and respond.”
How is #climatechange affecting our #health? How is the world responding? #wildfires, food security, carbon pricing, air pollution exposure- and much more! The latest #data will be available in our 2019 global report, launching 23.30pm UK time tonight! #LancetClimate19 pic.twitter.com/vWo4A3MgHy
— The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change (@LancetCountdown) November 13, 2019
The report warns that “nothing short of a 7.4% year-on-year cut in fossil fuel CO2 emissions” from now until 2050 can protect the health of the next generation.
It notes that phasing-out coal generated power and ensuring high-income countries meet financial climate commitments will be key to turning the tide.