Health at the mercy of fossil fuels: new report

A summary of a report published by the Lancet Countdown

The health of people around the world is suffering because of continued reliance on fossil fuels, according to a new report.

The Lancet Countdown report tracks global progress on health and climate change. The report concludes that we are at a critical time. More and more people around the world are feeling the impact of climate change on their health and wellbeing.

Governments and companies in both high- and low-income countries prioritise fossil fuel, despite the evidence showing the health, social and economic impact of climate change.

Key findings of the report include:

  • There has been a slow uptake of cleaner energies and access to these around the world.  This has left households with no choice but to use dirty fuel, such as wood. This means many people continue to breathe in dangerous levels of air pollution inside their homes.
  • Weather conditions around the world are changing. In many places this has encouraged the spread of disease.
  • Vulnerable groups of people were exposed to 3.7 billion more heatwave days in 2021 than annually between 1986 and 2005.
  • Heat exposure led to 470 billion potential working hours lost globally in 2021, with potential income losses of US$ 669 billion in total.
  • Human exposure to days with very high or extremely high fire danger increased in 61% of countries from 2001–2004 to 2018–2021.
  • Moving away from fossil fuels could prevent the 1.2 million deaths caused by exposure to air pollution from fossil fuels (ambient PM2.5).

Governments around the world continue to subsidise fossil fuels by hundreds of billions of dollars each year. In many cases, the amount spent on subsidising fossil fuels is similar to, or more than, their total budgets for health.

The report argues that we need a health-centred response to this crisis now so we can still deliver a healthier future.

Further reading

Read the executive summary and full report:

The 2022 Report of the Lancet Countdown: Health at the Mercy of Fossil Fuels