The reality is that the climate crisis is the biggest health crisis of our time, bigger even than Covid-19.

he latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report is a grim, yet unsurprising, reminder of the catastrophic effect global heating is having on our planet. The message from leading climate scientists is clear: action is needed now. Not tomorrow, not next year, not by the end of the decade.

Even drastic carbon reduction today that limits temperature increases to the 1.5C agreed in Paris will alter the world we live in for ever. The IPCC concludes that every fraction of a degree more will edge us towards tipping points that will leave deep scars on our planet.

While much has been said about the damage to weather patterns, crop yields and coral reefs, less well understood is the effect a hotter world has on our health. The reality is that the climate crisis is the biggest health crisis of our time, bigger even than Covid-19.

Heat-related deaths are expected to treble by 2050. Currently 7 million people die prematurely each year from air pollution, more than the death toll during the entire pandemic.

There has been a rise in chronic diseases linked to air pollution, and evidence suggests it is driving up cancer rates, too. Lung cancer and respiratory-related deaths linked to air pollution are up 160% over the past 30 years and it causes genetic mutations in some lung cancer-linked genes.

The toll on loved ones, public health and the economy is large and rising. It has been estimated that poor health costs the global economy 15% of global GDP. It is not only oil companies, carmakers and airlines at fault. Healthcare alone contributes 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, up to 8% in advanced economies.

Investing in greenhouse gas reduction is now proven beyond doubt, equalled or outweighed by the economic benefits of a healthier population, the IPCC says.

Increasingly investors are focused on those companies that are taking bold and science-driven action to mitigate climate warming. While this is the right thing to do, it also makes good business sense.

Decarbonising the economy is an opportunity and a driver of growth, which is why the backlash against environmental, social and governance focused investing is so misguided. As we saw during the pandemic, science finds a way, ingenuity triumphs and is duly rewarded.

Original source: https://www.theguardian.com