The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged world leaders to commit to ending the use of fossil fuels to protect human health as a new report reveals a sharp rise in deaths related to climate change worldwide.
The report, compiled by the Global Burden of Disease (GBD), looked at the health and environmental impacts of the burning of fossil fuels on all 195 countries in the world. It found that in 2017, an estimated 7.9 million premature deaths were linked directly to air pollution caused by the burning of coal, gas and oil.
The WHO says these findings should act as a wake-up call for governments to take urgent action to transition away from fossil fuels and towards cleaner, safer sources of energy. This includes transitioning to renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, and adopting efficient technologies like electric vehicles. The WHO also calls for tougher regulations and incentives to reduce air pollution.
The report also reveals a rise in the number of deaths from heatwaves, floods, droughts, extreme storms and other climate-related events. The experts involved in the report suggest these extreme weather events are likely to continue due to climate change, and proactive steps must be taken to limit the number of lives put at risk.
These steps include improving weather forecasting capabilities and investing in early warning systems to give people more time to prepare for extreme events. The report also recommends increased access to healthcare and improved public health systems that can better adapt to the changing environment.
The findings of this report come just a few weeks after a separate study revealed more than 18 million people died prematurely in 2018 due to air pollution, with the majority of deaths occurring in Asia. The WHO urges governments around the world to move quickly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and switch to cleaner, renewable energy in order to safeguard the health and well-being of their citizens.