According to a new paper by Hertie School Professor of Data Science and Public Policy Slava Jankin and his co-authors Niheer Dasandi (University of Birmingham), Hilary Graham and Pete Lampard (both University of York), poorer and climate-vulnerable countries that contribute least to emissions and already feel the worst health impacts of climate change are most likely to include health in their nationally determined contributions (NDCs). NDCs are a key component of individual country commitments for mitigating and adapting to climate change under the Paris Climate Agreement.

Their paper, titled “Engagement with health in national climate change commitments under the Paris Agreement: a global mixed-methods analysis of the nationally determined contributions”, was published on 9 February in a Lancet Planetary Health Special Issue.

Richer countries, in contrast, anchor their NDCs in non-health sectors such as energy and the economy. The authors show that high-income countries actually have a lot to gain from mitigation policies that reduce air pollution, increase physical activity and improve diets. Considering the health co-benefits of mitigation, therefore, presents an opportunity to engage with health in the NDCs and increase ambition.

“Having a low GDP per capita and being a small island developing state were associated with higher levels of health engagement. In addition, higher levels of population exposure to temperature change and ambient air pollution were associated with more health coverage in a country’s NDC”, Jankin and his co-authors summarise their findings.

Published annually, the Lancet Countdown on health and climate change is an international, multidisciplinary collaboration of over 120 leading experts from academic institutions and UN agencies across the globe. It monitors the evolving health profile of climate change and provides an independent assessment of the delivery of commitments made by governments worldwide under the Paris Agreement. This special edition highlights the benefits to health if countries adopt climate plans that are consistent with the Paris Agreement aim of limiting warming to “well below 2°C”.

Read the full study here.

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