Ageing will amplify health impacts of climate change, study finds

12.04.2024 – Together with researchers from Yale School of Public Health (YSPH) and the Multi-Country Multi-City Collaborative (MCC) Research Network, the team led by Prof. Ana Maria Vicedo-Cabrera recently published a new study about the impact of population aging on future temperature-related mortality.

Climate change poses profound public health threats to people of all ages. But as the climate changes, aging becomes another public health challenge. The proportion of the world’s population 65 and older is projected to rise from 9% at present to 16% in 2050. As the earth’s temperature becomes more extreme, population aging is expected to substantially amplify future heat- and cold-related deaths. According to the study, published in Nature Communications, at 1.5° C, 2° C, and 3° C of global warming, heat-related deaths in 800 locations across 50 countries and regions of the globe will increase by 0.5%, 1.0%, and 2.5%, respectively. Of these heat-related deaths, one-in-five to one-in-four can be attributed to population aging. Despite a projected decrease in cold-related mortality due to a warming climate, an aging population, which is vulnerable to cold as well as hot temperatures, will likely counteract this trend, leading to a net increase in cold-related deaths by 0.1% to 0.4%.

The authors conclude that the findings underscore the need for drastic climate mitigation strategies to keep 1.5 °C warming within reach and efficient climate adaptation measures to prevent temperature-related health impacts.

Information about the publication:
Chen, K., de Schrijver, E., Sivaraj, S. et al. Impact of population aging on future temperature-related mortality at different global warming levels. Nat Commun 15, 1796 (2024).