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New Lancet Countdown Connects Health and Climate

Executive Director

This morning at the COP, British medical journal The Lancet launched a new initiative called "The Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change." The initiative is an international, multi-disciplinary research collaboration between academic institutions following the 2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change, which emphasized that the response to climate change could be “the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century.”

According to Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, leader of the World Health Organization’s Climate and Health team, climate change underpins all the social and environmental determinants of health. Watch an interview with Campbell-Lendrum here.

Lancet leaders are building the case that quick, ambitious action to combat climate change will have co-benefits for public health that will yield savings in health spending, as well as improving human lives. Learn more and download the full report here.

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 12.6 million people died as a result of living or working in an unhealthy environment in 2012—nearly 1 in 4 of total global deaths. The greatest number of these—more than 18,000—were from air pollution.

Communicable diseases are an area of special concern with respect to climate change. Campbell-Lendrum said that Zika represents a “warning about the future.”

Nick Watts of the Lancet Countdown said it’s sometimes hard to obtain comparable data for indigenous populations and other vulnerable groups. Watts said the project will be publishing case studies on vulnerable populations that may not be captured in regular public health statistics.