Protecting health from climate change
Climate change undermines access to safe water, adequate food, and clean air, exacerbating the approximately 12.6 million deaths each year that are caused by avoidable environmental risk factors. Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250 000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress, and billions of dollars in direct damage costs to health. WHO works with countries across the world to protect the most vulnerable populations from the health effects of extreme weather events, and to increase their resilience to long-term climate change.
At the same time, the policy decisions and polluting energy sources that are causing climate change are also causing direct health impacts, most notably contributing to the 6.5 million deaths each year from air pollution. Through the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, countries have made commitments to cut carbon pollution, for example through promoting cleaner energy sources, and more sustainable urban transport systems, that will also protect and improve the health of their own populations. WHO is supporting countries to assess the expected health gains from their Paris commitments, and to promote policy choices that bring the greatest benefits both to health, and the environment.
In July 2017, WHO is launching the second round of its Climate and Health Country profiles – providing updated national level evidence on health risks and opportunities, and tracking progress.