Global warming will worsen inequalities in health around the world and increase death rates faster in poorer countries than in wealthier ones, according to a coalition of scientists, economists and climate experts.
New research from the Climate Impact Lab concludes that low-income countries were disproportionately affected by extreme heat, as the negative health effects were exacerbated by restricted access to air conditioning and less developed healthcare systems, based on the historical data.
The study, which indicates greater climate-related mortality rates in developing countries than in wealthier ones, comes as world leaders land in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt for the UN climate summit.
The conference is expected to be dominated by fraught debate among nations over who pays for the costs of climate change, with the smaller, less wealthy nations most affected by a warming planet arguing that richer countries with higher emissions should help foot the bill.
In a scenario where countries meet their greenhouse gas emissions reduction pledges under the Paris Agreement, Faisalabad, Pakistan, could expect annual all-cause death rates to increase by 67 deaths per 100,000 people compared to a future with no climate change, the study’s authors found.
By comparison, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, more widespread access to electricity and healthcare would cause an increase of a comparably lower 35 extra deaths per 100,000 people, despite similar patterns of extreme heat being forecast.
“Just looking at this data you can think about the fact that this could have real impacts on human migration in even just the next 30 or 40 years,” said Hannah Hess, associate director at the independent Rhodium Group, a part of the climate lab.