Millions of lives lost annually to air pollution, physical inactivity and unhealthy diets could be saved if countries continue to cut emissions in line with the Paris agreement.
That’s according to a report by the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change, which assessed the health benefits of meeting climate targets in nine countries, including the UK, US and China. Across the nine nations, it was estimated that Paris-compliant policies could save 5.8m lives due to better diet (shifting to a more organic diet and/or eating more plant-based food), 1.2m lives due to cleaner air (radically fewer polluting factories) and 1.2 million lives due to increased exercise (cycling and walking, rather than driving).
The health costs of climate change are multiplying and no country is immune. It is widely recognised - by politicians and public alike - that climate change is human in its origins. It is now increasingly evident that it is human in its impacts.
Lead author Ian Hamilton said: “The message is stark. Not only does delivering on Paris prevent millions dying prematurely each year, the quality of life for millions more will be improved through better health.”
The Lancet is a heavyweight medical journal - one of the world’s most influential and highly cited. It uses its political heft to make global challenges part of the remit of medical science and, it's hoped, citing the human health benefits of cleaning up our environment will help accelerate action to implement the Paris accord as well as improving the health of the planet and its residents.
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