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Paris Goals Crucial to Avoiding Heat-Related Deaths in Europe

Researchers at the University of Bristol have found that limiting the global average temperature rise to 1.5°Celsius – the lower end of what has been internationally agreed under the Paris Climate Change Agreement – could save many lives in Europe by avoiding heat stress.

Higher temperatures caused by climate change not only lead to more frequent and long-lasting heat waves, but also affect human health in the form of heat strokes, heat cramps, and even death.

A report published by UN Climate Change last year shows that above all children, the elderly, and poorer parts of the population are at risk from climate change impacts including heat stress.

The paper, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, demonstrates that mortality due to high temperatures could be reduced by between 15-22 per cent per summer in London and Paris if the climate is stabilized 1.5° Celsius, as compared with the higher temperature goal of 2° C.

“Our results show a clear increase in heat-related mortality which can be avoided by adhering to the Paris Agreement goals”, said Dr Dann Mitchell, lead author of the study, Cabot Institute member, and a lecturer in climate physics at the University of Bristol.

“Together with the recent publication of a wealth of evidence presented for climate drivers of other impact sectors such as the crop sector, it is becoming ever more clear as to how crucial these climate goals are. We need to understand the magnitude of these health impacts, so we can plan suitable adaptation strategies to prevent them.”

In London, currently around 10 per cent of summers are free of any heat-related mortality, but the research has shown that under potential future climate change virtually all summers will have some heat-related deaths.

Researchers from Bristol who lead the HAPPI project (Half a degree Additional warming, Prognosis and Projected Impacts Model Intercomparison Project) simulated future climate under climate goals consistent with the 1.5° C and 2° C global warming Paris Agreement climate goals. The project engaged researchers and citizen scientists from around the world to help run the experiments.

The research was carried out in collaboration with researchers at Public Health England, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Oxford University, the University of Washington, The European Centre for Environment and Human Health, ETH Zurich, and the National Institute for Environmental Studies in Tsukuba, Japan.

The original press release by the University of Bristol can be read here.

To view the original article from the UNFCCC, please click here.