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Global health

IPCC report calls for action to limit health impacts of climate change

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) confirms — with 95% certainty — that human influence on the climate is growing, and concludes, if left unchecked, it will have irreversible impact on people, species and ecosystems.

The IPCC warns that throughout the 21st century, climate change is expected to lead to increases in ill-health in many regions and especially in poor developing countries. Health impacts identified include greater likelihood of injury and death due to more intense heatwaves and fires, and increased risks from foodborne and waterborne diseases.

Risks from vector-borne diseases are projected to generally increase with warming, the report notes, due to “the extension of the infection area and season, despite reductions in some areas that become too hot for disease vectors”. Globally, it says, the magnitude and severity of negative impacts will increasingly outweigh positive impacts. Risks of under nutrition in poor regions will also increase, it adds.

The panel of more than 800 scientists reiterated that without additional climate mitigation efforts beyond those in place today, estimates for temperature warming in 2100 are likely to increase from 3.7°C to 4.8°C over pre-industrial levels.

“We have little time before the window of opportunity to stay within 2°C, and at manageable costs,” Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, warns. “Our emissions should drop by 40–70% globally between 2010 and 2050, falling to zero by 2100.”

The IPCC report[1] was released on 2 November 2014 in Copenhagen. 

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.20067126

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