The Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change is a global, interdisciplinary research collaboration which has published an annual review since 2016. The Lancet Countdown’s 2017 Report tracks 40 indicators across five areas, and concludes that the human symptoms of climate change are unequivocal and potentially irreversible. Of particular interest, Indicator 1.3 states that “global physical labour capacity in populations exposed to temperature change has decreased by around 5.3% between 2000 and 2016.” Other alarming statistics: between 2000 and 2016, the number of vulnerable people exposed to heatwave events has increased by around 125 million; without further action against climate change, over 1 billion people may be at risk of become climate change migrants by the end of the century. The full report is available here (registration required, free).
In addition to the global report, the Lancet Countdown produces country-specific reports; the Briefing for Canadian Policy-makers was written in partnership with the Canadian Public Health Association. It makes several recommendations for Canadian action, including • Phase out coal-powered electricity in Canada by 2030 or sooner, with a minimum of two thirds of the power replaced by non-emitting sources, and any gap made up by lowest-emitting natural gas technology. Track and cost the health benefits of the transition in Canada and globally; • Develop a National Active Transport Strategy for Canada to coordinate improvements to walking, cycling and transit environments. This should receive priority funding, with healthcare cost savings calculated in order to demonstrate the cost offset of the investments. • Enhance support for telecommuting and telehealth options. Within health systems, gather and analyze data on kilometers, greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution and costs saved by telehealth in order to help drive systems change. • Increase funding for research into the local health impacts of resource extraction, with a focus on impacts on Indigenous populations.• Integrate Health Impact Assessments as a core component of the federal Environmental Assessment process.