Brain Booster for UPSC & State PCS Examination (Topic: The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change)

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Topic: The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change

The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change

Why in News?

  • New research from ‘The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change’, highlights the benefits to health if countries adopt climate plans – Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) – that are consistent with the Paris Agreement aim of limiting warming to “well below 2°C”.

The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change

  • The Lancet Countdown on health and climate change, published annually, is an international, multidisciplinary collaboration, dedicated to monitoring the evolving health profile of climate change, and providing an independent assessment of the delivery of commitments made by governments worldwide under the Paris Agreement.
  • The countries considered in the study represent 50 per cent of the world’s population and 70 per cent of the world’s emissions – Brazil, China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, South Africa, the UK and the US.

Methods Adopted

  • The health co-benefits of existing NDCs and related policies (ie, the current pathways scenario) for 2040 in nine countries around the world.
  • These health co-benefits were compared with two alternative scenarios, one consistent with the goal of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (ie, the sustainable pathways scenario), and one in line with the sustainable pathways scenario, but also placing health as a central focus of the policies (ie, the health in all climate policies scenario).
  • For each nation, emissions generated from energy, agriculture and transport sectors, and annual deaths due to air pollution, diet-related risk factors and physical inactivity, were estimated for the year 2040 for three different NDC scenarios.
  • Estimating for the year 2040, this scenario was designed to be aligned with the commitments of the Paris Agreement to limit the increase in global temperature to well below 2°C within the century and also to meet SDG2 (zero hunger), SDG3 (good health and wellbeing), SDG7 (affordable and clean energy), and SDG13 (climate action).

Findings of the Study

  • Compared with the current pathways scenario, the sustainable pathways scenario resulted in an annual reduction of 1•18 million air pollution-related deaths, 5•86 million diet-related deaths, and 1•15 million deaths due to physical inactivity, across the nine countries, by 2040.
  • Adopting the more ambitious health in all climate policies scenario would result in a further reduction of 462 000 annual deaths attributable to air pollution, 572 000 annual deaths attributable to diet, and 943 000 annual deaths attributable to physical inactivity.
  • These benefits were attributable to the mitigation of direct greenhouse gas emissions and the commensurate actions that reduce exposure to harmful pollutants, as well as improved diets and safe physical activity.
  • If India can adhere to its commitments, then the study indicates the country would be able to save as many as 4.3 lakh lives due to cleaner air and 17.41 lakh lives due to better diet.

Paris Agreement

  • The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change. It was adopted by 196 Parties at COP 21 in Paris, on 12 December 2015 and entered into force on 4 November 2016.
  • Its goal is to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degree Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.
  • To achieve this long-term temperature goal, countries aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible to achieve a climate neutral world by mid-century.


  • Currently, NDCs globally are not strong enough to achieve the Paris agreement (risking a global temperature rise of greater than 3°C), and the authors emphasise that the lives saved through better diet, cleaner air and increased exercise provide yet another rationale for strengthening commitments.


  • Unlike the direct benefits of carbon mitigation which are ultimately longterm and understood in terms of damage limitation, the health cobenefits of ambitious climate policies have an immediate positive impact.
  • Not only does delivering on Paris Agreement prevent millions dying prematurely each year, the quality of life for millions more will be improved through better health.