The proportion of the global population vulnerable to heat-related death and disease is growing as a result of climate change’s effects on growing populations of older people, people living in cities, and people with non-communicable diseases (NCDs), according to the 2018 report of The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change.
The rising vulnerability to the heat-related risks of climate change is mirrored by increased exposure to higher temperatures. Despite a mean global temperature increase of 0.3°C between 1986 and 2017, the average temperature increase people were exposed to was more than double this (0.8°C).
With the pace of climate change outweighing the urgency of the response, the report provides cause for concern. However, the authors also note promising trends in key areas for health, including the phase-out of coal, the deployment of healthier, cleaner modes of transport, and health system adaptation. In 2017, over 157 million vulnerable people over the age of 65 were exposed to heatwaves compared to the study’s baseline, and 18 million more people compared to 2016.