The climate crisis makes people ill - four proposals towards a healthy future

12/03/2020 - Today the 2020 Lancet Countdown, the new report on the relationship between health and climate change, has been released. It shows that the health risks posed by a changing climate are increasing worldwide, including Germany - and that countermeasures are possible.
The climate crisis makes people ill - four proposals towards a healthy future

The health effects of climate change are already affecting many people around the world. Heat waves, health hazards caused by extreme weather or new types of pathogens such as the corona virus are becoming increasingly common in Germany as well. In the „Lancet Countdown 2020“, the annual international Report on Health and Climate Change, experts from 38 leading academic institutions and UN organizations around the world therefore call on policymakers to take decisive action to meet the UN climate protection targets and avert climate-related health damage. The research report of the renowned medical journal "The Lancet" is accompanied by a scientific policy brief for Germany; project partners are the German Medical Association, the Institute of Epidemiology of Helmholtz Zentrum München, the Medical Faculty of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research PIK.

The goal: healthy people on a healthy planet

The organizations stress that the corona pandemic shows the importance of global scientific cooperation and decisive political action in crisis management. The project partners are convinced that much can be learned from this for the fight against climate change. "Healthy people on a healthy planet, that's what it's all about. There is no use in just pumping money into the economy against the short-term corona crisis; we also have to do something about the long-term climate crisis," says Sabine Gabrysch, who holds the first university Professorship for Climate Change and Health at Berlin's Charité hospital and heads the "Climate resilience" department at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

Four proposals for a healthy future

The policy paper for Germany highlights several points for which urgent action is seen as necessary:

How do we recover from the Corona pandemic in a climate-friendly way? Climate, health and economic goals are not only mutually reinforcing, but also interdependent. Therefore, initiatives to strengthen and rebuild the economy after the corona pandemic should use synergy effects to protect the climate.

How do eating habits and food production influence health & climate? Nutrition is an important means that allows everyone to influence the climate. Food production is responsible for around a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, our way of eating, with a large amount of animal-based and highly processed foods, is responsible for a large proportion of chronic and life-threatening diseases.

Cycling, walking, using public transport: healthy for us and healthy for the climate. In Europe, the transport sector is responsible for around a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions. It is becoming increasingly clear that air pollution is also a significant risk factor for many diseases, probably including Covid-19. Non-motorized exercise, on the other hand, counteracts climate change, reduces air pollution and promotes health at the same time.

How can cities protect the health of their citizens and the climate at the same time? The urban environment has a decisive influence on the health of its inhabitants. Local and municipal measures can transform living spaces in such a way that they promote health while at the same time driving social, economic and ecological development.

"It is the task of doctors to explain the health effects of climate change and not only to demand countermeasures to protect health, but to actively support them. The 2020 Lancet Countdown report for Germany with its numerous recommendations for politicians makes an important contribution to this," says Dr. Ellen Lundershausen, Vice President of the German Medical Association.

The Policy Brief for Germany can be found HERE

The global Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Report 2020 can be found HERE

Media contacts:

German Medical Association
Press office of the German medical profession
Phone: +49 30 400 456 - 700

Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin
Corporate Communications Division
Phone: +49 30 450 570 400

Deutsche Allianz Klimawandel und Gesundheit (KLUG)
Phone: +49 177 2847467

Helmholtz Zentrum München - German Research Center for Environmental Health
Communications Division
Phone: +49 89 3187-2711

Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research PIK
Phone: +49 331 288 2507