UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources


Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change launches landmark report

23 June 2015

Lancet Commission

The Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change, written by experts from around the world, today reports three key findings:

  • The effects of Climate Change are being felt today, pose a potentially catastrophic risk to human health, and have been underestimated.
  • The technologies and finance required to address the problem can be made available, but the political will to connect them is lacking, whilst
  • Such action on Climate Change could be the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st Century: actions to reduce climate change are also good for health here and now. 

Members of the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources (UCL ISR), UCL ISR Director Professor Paul Ekins, Dr Paolo Agnolucci, Paul Drummond and Melissa Lott, along with Wenjia Cai of Tsinghua University, focussed on financial and economic action as part of Working Group Four.

Professor Paul Ekins said:

"Enough is now known about the economics of climate chance mitigation to be sure that it is an excellent investment for humanity, such that any costs are justified even in narrow financial terms compared to the potential climate change damages avoided.

When the non-financial health costs associated with burning fossil fuels are included, then any mitigation costs are lower than the benefits even in the short term. And when one considers the technological, industrial and innovation benefits for future generations of developing ways of capturing infinite, clean renewables at affordable costs, then the whole argument in favour of moving away from fossil fuels and reducing emissions as quickly becomes overwhelming."

Professor Michael Grubb, Professor of International Energy and Climate Change Policy worked across Working Group Three ‘Transition to a low-carbon energy infrastructure’ with members of UCL’s partner Institute, UCL Energy Institute , Working Group Four, ‘Financial and economic action’, and Working Group Five, ‘Delivering a healthy low-carbon future’, with colleagues from across UCL, as the integrating editor for mitigation.

Professor Grubb said:

"Putting a price on carbon can start to immunise us against the risks of climate change."

Read our dedicated blogs explaining elements of the commission report

Further Information about the report:

Quotable Statements from the Commission Co-chairs:

Professor Anthony Costello says, “It’s clear that by tackling climate change, we can also benefit health. Climate change is in fact our greatest opportunity to benefit human health for generations to come.”

Professor Hugh Montgomery says,  ”Climate Change is a medical emergency. It thus demands an emergency response, using the technologies available right now. Under such circumstances, no doctor would consider a series of annual case discussions and aspirations adequate.” 

China’s Professor Peng Gong, from Tsinghua University, Beijing and Commission Co-Chair, says that
adapting to climate change will have an enormous positive effect on health. “The health community has responded to many grave threats to health in the past. It took on entrenched interests such as the tobacco industry, and led the fight against HIV/AIDS. It’s time for us to lead the way in responding to the biggest threat to public health of our generation.”

Background to the Commission

The 2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change was formed to map out a comprehensive response to climate change - a ‘prescription’ to protect human health and survival worldwide. It represents a strong international, multidisciplinary collaboration between academic centres in Europe and China, including University College London (UCL), Tsinghua University in Beijing, Stockholm Resilience Centre, the UK Meteorological Office and the University of Exeter.

Press contacts:

For general enquiries about the commission:

Rosie Bartlett, Communications Lead, T: +44 (0) 20 7905 2149
M: +44 (0) 7810 648 898 E: r.bartlett@ucl.ac.uk, Twitter:  @UCLGlobalHealth

For enquiries about ISR contributions to the commission:

Ellie Forward, BSEER Communications Manager, T: +44 (0) 20 7679 9027
E: e.forward@ucl.ac.uk, Twitter:  @UCL_ISR