Climate Change – A Global Crisis
According to the World Health Organisation, climate change is the “greatest threat to global health in the 21st century”. Climate change affects the social and environmental determinants of health – clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter. Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250 000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress. Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases through better transport, food and energy-use choices can result in improved health, particularly through reduced air pollution.
The government has committed the UK to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Achieving our goals under the Paris Climate Change Agreement could see over 140,000 lives saved every year from a combination of improved air quality, a more physically active population and healthier diets.
In the UK, pollution is attributed to the be the cause of between 28,000 and 36,000 premature deaths, annually, such as those arising from heart disease, stroke and lung cancer, with a health impact estimated to cost between £8.5 billion to £18.6 billion, annually . High air pollution can trigger asthma attacks and COPD exacerbations and worsen symptoms of people with lung conditions.
As the largest employer in the UK, the NHS is responsible for around 4% of the nation’s carbon emissions. Despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic since 2020, the NHS remains committed to playing its part in helping the country achieve its climate goals. Indeed the pandemic has reinforced the connections between global public health, the environment and communities across the world. To find out more, read our white paper on Towards A Net Zero NHS: Role of Technology & Innovation.