How Climate Change Threatens Health and What this Means for Germany

Scientists present the current Lancet Countdown report for Europe

Computer-generated image

Symbolic image

Without more action to combat climate change there will be a surge in negative climate-related consequences for global health. And this particularly applies to Europe, where the rise in temperature is above the global average, according to the warning issued by the current Europe Report of the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change, in which 69 scientists have collated the specific regional impacts with the aid of 42 indicators. Researchers from Heidelberg University are playing a major role in producing the report, under the leadership of Prof. Dr Joacim Rocklöv. Together with other representatives from the scientific community as well as experts from politics, practice and civil society, they will present its findings and the consequences for Germany during a livestreamed public event at Heidelberg University on 23 May 2024.

The Lancet Countdown, a worldwide multidisciplinary collaboration between research institutions and United Nations organisations, has since 2017 been using a wealth of indicators to analyse the connection between climate and public health, along with international political responses to climate change and its impacts. These are published annually as the “Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change” report in the journal “Lancet”, most recently in November last year. A separate report for Europe was introduced in 2021 in “Lancet Public Health”, with the goal of assessing the consequences of the climate crisis at the European level, reporting trends in impacts, analysing adaptation and mitigation measures, and naming fields of action in business, finance, politics and administration.

As Alexander von Humboldt Professor at Heidelberg University, the epidemiologist, mathematician and statistician Joacim Rocklöv does research in a number of large-scale projects at the university and the Heidelberg University Hospital on the impacts of climate and environmental change on public health. For that purpose, he directs the Climate-Sensitive Infectious Diseases Lab (CSIDlab), which is located at the Heidelberg Institute of Global Health and the Interdisciplinary Center for Scientific Computing. In the 2024 European Lancet Countdown report Prof. Rocklöv is responsible for the section “Climate change impacts, exposures, and vulnerabilities”, for which members of the CSIDlab team have collated and evaluated data for the indicators heat exposure, dengue fever and West Nile virus. In the section “Adaptation, planning, and resilience for health” the Heidelberg contribution discusses nature-based solutions such as forests, wetlands and urban green areas, which can serve both climate adaptation – for example in regard to protection from heat, drought and flood risks – and carbon sequestration purposes.

Prof. Rocklöv emphasises that effective action to combat climate change must guarantee not only a healthy but also a just environmental transformation, with protection and adaptation measures also reducing inequities between and within countries. This applies, he says, to all key areas impacting on health. The Heidelberg scientist: “Europe must admit to its role in creating the climate crisis and take global responsibility to support the most affected communities. This also applies to the role of Germany in actively combatting climate change and the negative effects on health linked to the rise in temperature levels.”

Launch event at Heidelberg University to present results for Germany

The event to launch the 2024 European Lancet Countdown Report on Health and Climate Change, and the results relating to Germany, will be hosted by the Heidelberg University researchers, together with the KLUG – German Alliance for Climate Change and Health and the Centre for Planetary Health Policy (CPHP).

Prof. Dr Karin Schumacher, Vice-Rector for Quality Development and Sustainability of Heidelberg University, will give the opening address. Greetings will be brought by Peter Löffler from the Directorate-General for Climate Action of the European Commission and Francesca Racioppi, director of the European Centre for Environment and Health of the World Health Organisation (WHO). Prof. Rocklöv will then explain the findings in the new report. Comments on the results will follow from Angelina Taylor of the Robert Koch Institute and Dr Petra van Rüth from the German Environment Agency. The concluding discussion will feature experts from science, politics, practice and civil society.

The event is taking place on 23 May 2024 in the Great Hall of the Old University (Heidelberg, Grabengasse 1). It starts at 10.30 a.m. Those attending in person must be seated in the Great Hall by 10.15 a.m. Attendance at the launch event – both in person and by livestream – requires registration. The streaming link will be sent to all who have registered.

Other news from the department science

Most read news

More news from our other portals

Fighting cancer: latest developments and advances