Countries need to keep global temperatures in check by meeting the goals set out in the Paris Agreement, or more people could die because of extreme temperatures, researchers have warned. The Paris Agreement, adopted in 2015 under the auspices of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), binds nations to hold warming well below 2 degrees Celsius in global mean temperature, relative to pre-industrial levels.
It also urges countries to make additional efforts to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The study by researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) indicated dramatic increases of heat-related deaths under extreme warming (3 degrees Celsius and 4 degrees Celsius) compared to the mildest threshold (1.5 degrees Celsius), with additional excess mortality ranging from over 0.73 per cent to nearly 9 per cent across all regions.
“Our projections suggest that large increases in temperature-related deaths could be limited in most regions if warming was kept below 2 degrees Celsius,” said lead author Ana Maria Vicedo-Cabrera from the varsity. The net difference remained positive and high in most of the areas, even when potential decreases in cold-related deaths were considered.
However, net increase in deaths was still projected for warmer regions such as South America, South Europe, and South-East Asia (with changes ranging from more than 0.19 per cent to nearly one per cent), while in cooler regions the excess mortality was predicted to stay stable or drop slightly.
“Under extreme changes in climate, large parts of the world could experience a dramatic increase in excess mortality due to heat. This would not be balanced by decreases in cold-related deaths,” Vicedo-Cabrera added. The results, appearing in the journal Climatic Change, is based on historical data on temperature-related deaths from 451 locations in 23 countries with different socio-economic and climatic conditions.
Currently, we are on a trajectory to reach over 3 degrees Celsius of warming, and if this trend continues there would be serious consequences for health in many parts of the world, the researchers noted. “Efforts to limit the increase in global temperature to below 1.5 degrees Celsius could provide additional benefits in tropical or arid regions, including the most populous and often poorest countries,” Vicedo-Cabrera said.