Climate change poses such a threat to human health that it could undermine all the gains in global development during the past 50 years, an independent international commission reports on Tuesday.
The review, led by experts on medicine and economics at University College London and published in the Lancet, says immediate action is needed to avert the direct health impacts of climate change through heatwaves, other extreme weather events and the spread of infectious diseases — and indirect effects through factors such as forced migration and crop failures.
"Climate change is a medical emergency," said Hugh Montgomery, director of the UCL Institute for Human Health and Performance, who co-chaired the commission.
"It thus demands an emergency response, using the technologies available right now.
"Under such circumstances, no doctor would consider a series of annual case discussions and aspirations adequate, yet this is exactly how the global response to climate change is proceeding."