The Lancet Countdown: tracking progress on health and climate change was established to provide an independent, global monitoring system dedicated to tracking the health dimensions of the impacts of, and the response to, climate change. The Lancet Countdown tracks 41 indicators across five domains: climate change impacts, exposures, and vulnerability; adaptation, planning, and resilience for health; mitigation actions and health co-benefits; finance and economics; and public and political engagement.
The following four key messages derive from the Lancet Countdown’s 2018 report:
Present day changes in heat waves, labour capacity, vector-borne disease, and food security provide early warning of the compounded and overwhelming impact on public health that are expected if temperatures continue to rise. Trends in climate change impacts, exposures, and vulnerabilities show an unacceptably high level of risk for the current and future health of populations across the world.
A lack of progress in reducing emissions and building adaptive capacity threatens both human lives and the viability of the national health systems they depend on, with the potential to disrupt core public health infrastructure and overwhelm health services.
Despite these delays, a number of sectors have seen the beginning of a low-carbon transition, and it is clear that the nature and scale of the response to climate change will be the determining factor in shaping the health of nations for centuries to come.
Ensuring a widespread understanding of climate change as a central public health issue will be crucial in delivering an accelerated response, with the health profession beginning to rise to this challenge.