UCL News


UCL and The Lancet join forces to address forgotten cost of climate change - human health

4 April 2008

One of the world's leading universities is teaming up with the world's leading medical journal to launch a joint Commission to study and report on the human health effects of climate change - an area often overlooked in the climate change debate.

The Lancet-UCL Commission has been established to review the likely health impacts of climate change on human societies, and to document ways to reverse those impacts.

In a commentary featured in this week's edition of The Lancet, the authors write: "The creation of this special Commission acknowledges the unprecedented threat that climate change poses to human health globally - in the medium term, as a danger to already vulnerable continents (such as Africa); and in the long term, as a potential species-extinction process.

"In the debate over the effects of climate change, the health sector is sometimes considered of secondary importance. We reject that view. The health (and future viability) of the human species should be a central concern for policymakers as they consider how best to mitigate the effects of global warming".

While there is no serious scientific doubt about the reality of climate change and global warming as a result of greenhouse gas emissions, there is much doubt about the health and population consequences over the next century.

Some scientists predict catastrophe for human populations while others suggest far more modest, though still serious, outcomes. Whatever the scenario, it is clear that there is an urgent need to fully consider and address the health consequences of climate change.

The Lancet-UCL Commission membership spans a wide range of academic disciplines and includes prominent UCL staff such as Professor Mark Maslin (UCL Environment Institute), Professor Hugh Montgomery (UCL Cardiovascular Medicine), Professor Anne Johnson (UCL Primary Care and Population Sciences) and Professor Joanne Scott (UCL Laws).

Professor Anthony Costello, Chair of the new Commission and Director of the UCL Institute for Global Health, says: "Global health problems, such as those due to climate change, require academic inputs beyond biomedicine - from philosophy, law, economics, anthropology, politics, engineering, geography, the built environment, and other disciplines.

"We hope the broad-based UCL-Lancet Commission will draw upon ideas and suggestions from the global community, together with academics from all backgrounds, to produce recommendations that will allow the health effects of climate change to be monitored, mitigated, and managed more effectively."


Notes for Editors

1. Journalists who would like more information, or to interview Professor Anthony Costello, should contact Ruth Metcalfe in the UCL Media Relations Office on tel: +44 (0)20 7679 9739, mobile: +44 (0)7990 675 947, email: r.metcalfe@ucl.ac.uk, out of hours: +44 (0)7917 271 364

2. The commentary 'The Lancet-UCL Commission: managing the health effects of climate change' is published in this week's edition of The Lancet.

3. Members of The Lancet-UCL commission include: Anthony Costello (Global health; chairman), John Aitken (Slade), Sarah Ball (Global health), Sarah Bell (Engineering), Richard Bellamy (Political science), Richard Horton (The Lancet), Anne Johnson (Population sciences), Caren Levy (Development planning), David McCoy (International health and development), Mark Maslin (Environment institute), Hugh Montgomery (Cardiovascular medicine), David Napier (Anthropology), Craig Patterson (Global health), Nanneke Redclift (Anthropology), Daniel Rogger (Economics), Joanne Scott (Laws), Marie Lee (Laws), Stephen Smith (Environmental economics), Judith Stephenson (Women's Health), and Jonathan Wolff (Philosophy). Student members are: Mustafa Abbas, Hannah Rees and Sarah Legrand.

Global Health at UCL

The UCL Institute for Global Health is a unique interdisciplinary collaboration of leading academics which has been established to bring together UCL's extensive research, education & policy and programme development efforts in the field of global health. Global Health is more than the study of diseases of the developing world: it is the study of the many factors that contribute to health and disease world-wide. This involves looking at economic, cultural, historical, political, commercial and environmental factors on a global scale - the subject therefore benefits from the input of the range of disciplines.

Researchers from a number of areas are working together to conduct research, to review evidence, to advocate, and to develop action for improving the health of populations globally. A new Masters programme in Global Health will offer a unique cross disciplinary perspective on global health unmatched by similar courses in the UK, US or European Union.

For more information, please go to: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/global-health/