A rise in global temperatures beyond the limits established by the signers of the Paris climate agreement could result in an almost 9 percent increase in deaths internationally, a new study says. The number of…
A rise in global temperatures beyond the limits established by the signers of the Paris climate agreement could result in an almost 9 percent increase in deaths internationally, a new study says.
The number of heat-related deaths in regional populations would increase from 0.73 percent to 8.86 percent if the globe warms by 3 degrees Celsius (about 5 degrees Fahrenheit) or higher, according to an assessment by two professors at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, published in the letters section of the journal Climate Change.
The deaths due to heat exposure would increase despite a corresponding decrease in deaths from the cold, the authors say. Their predictions comes at a time of global skepticism as to whether the world’s largest polluters, including the U.S., will adhere to the Paris agreement.
“We hope that the results will help convince nations to take decisive actions by implementing ambitious climate change policies consistent with the Paris agreement in an effort to save lives,” said co-author Antonio Gasparrini in a statement accompanying the study, which was released on Thursday. He says the current global trajectory would result in an increase of 3 degrees. “If this trend continues there would be serious consequences for health in many parts of the world.”
Even if global warming is limited to 2 degrees Celsius or less, deaths from heat will likely still increase in South America, Southern Europe and Southeast Asia, according to the study. The difference in other areas will likely stay stable or slightly drop.
The 2015 agreement, developed under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, calls on the 174 countries that signed it as well as the European Union to develop their own plans limiting a rise in global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius (about 3 degrees Fahrenheit).
President Donald Trump announced in June 2017 that he intends to withdraw the U.S. from an agreement that his predecessor had touted as a singular achievement. White House spokespeople at the time said carbon dioxide emissions from within the U.S. were on the decline despite the agreement, and claimed that it “could cost the United States economy millions of jobs and trillions of dollars in economic output over the next several decades” — despite the fact that the U.S. would determine on its own how to adhere to it.
Trump since then has routinely cited the withdrawal as an example of one of his administration’s accomplishments, even though signatories cannot break from the agreement before November, 2020. Vice President Mike Pence has cited the planned withdrawal from the accord frequently in recent weeks, telling attendees at rallies, “President Trump put America first when he withdrew the United States from the job-killing Paris climate accord.”
Critics of Trump’s actions, however, say many elements within the U.S. have continued to comply with the agreement’s framework despite the administration’s intentions.
Through an initiative called America’s Pledge, California Gov. Jerry Brown and former New York City Mayor-turned U.N. climate change envoy Michael Bloomberg say ongoing efforts will bring the U.S. close to a 26 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2025 despite a lack of cooperation from the administration. In an op-ed published in the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday, they cite lawsuits by California and other states to challenge the EPA’s changes to fuel efficiency standards, and what they consider broad bipartisan support for renewable energy sources. A 2017 Pew study said two-thirds of Americans give priority to alternative forms of energy rather than fossil fuels.
“Our message to the world is simple: The United States is taking bold steps to uphold our end of the deal. And we have market forces and public opinion on our side,” the pair wrote.
Other countries have faced political pressure for planned adherence to the terms of the 2015 agreement. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in August his government was unable to broker an agreement in the House of Representatives to agree to an energy policy bill that aligned with the Paris accord.
China faces increased pressure to become a leader in sustainable energy development following Trump’s proposed withdrawal, according to other studies. Chinese officials have encouraged their American counterparts to remain a part of the deal.
“China has made it clear that it is willing to enhance cooperation with the United States in the areas of clean energy utilization, energy and resource conservation, carbon capture and storage, as well as other research and development,” Chinese Special Representative on Climate Change Xie Zhenhua said in October.