India Among Countries Worst Hit by Climate Change, Says Report

1,130

Climate change is making more people around the world vulnerable to heat exposure, putting them at greater risk of heart and kidney disease, heat stress, and other heat-related killers, scientists warned.

Global warming’s effects look most serious for ageing and urban populations and people with chronic health conditions. India is one of the countries worst hit by heat stress and labour hours lost as a result.

Less than a week before the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP) on climate change begins in Katowice, Poland, a Lancet report has raised concern on the debilitating impact of climate change on human health across the world. In a hard-hitting report published by The Lancet medical journal, scientists and health experts said climate change impacts – from heatwaves to worsening storms, floods and fires – were surging and threatened to overwhelm health systems.

Europe and the eastern Mediterranean are more vulnerable than Africa and southeast Asia due to many older people living in densely populated cities. The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change involved work from 27 academic institutions in disciplines from health to engineering to ecology, plus expertise from the United Nations and intergovernmental agencies across the world.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), climate change affects many factors influencing health, including clean air and water, food and shelter. It estimates that between 2030 and 2050, climate change could cause an additional 250,000 deaths a year due to malnutrition, diarrhoea, malaria and heat stress. The report found that in 2017, some 157 million vulnerable people were exposed to heatwaves. Some 153 billion hours of labour were lost last year due to heat exposure.

Issues likely to be discussed at this year’s conference are transfer of climate funds from developed countries to developing nations for adaptation to climate change impacts, and how nations can keep global temperature rise under 1.5 degree Celsius. Mortality rates for malignant melanoma have increased significantly in Europe, the Americas, and the Western Pacific.

Lancet report warned, “A rapidly changing climate has dire implications for every aspect of human life, exposing vulnerable populations to extremes of weather, altering patterns of infectious disease and compromising food security, safe drinking water and clean air.”