26 February, 2024

A better integration of health and economic impact assessments of climate change


Anton Orlov, Jessie Schleypen, Kristin Aunan, Jana Sillmann, Antonio Gasparrini and Malcolm Mistry

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Climate change could lead to high economic burden for individuals (i.e. low income and high prices). While economic conditions are important determinants of climate change vulnerability, environmental epidemiological studies focus primarily on the direct impact of temperature on morbidity and mortality without accounting for climate-induced impacts on the economy.

The link between temperature and mortality is well documented. Hot temperatures are shown to worsen cardiovascular diseases, which are a major cause of death globally, but also other common diseases, such as respiratory diseases and chronic kidney diseases.

In addition to temperature, some models also include vulnerability covariates, such as income that is typically measured by the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. However, while some advanced environmental epidemiological models include various demographic characteristics, such as age and gender, the representation of economic vulnerability factors in research is often oversimplified.

This study argues that more integrated approaches are needed to provide comprehensive assessments of climate-induced direct and indirect impacts on health. This paper provides some perspectives on how this could be done.

The authors argue that accounting for the economic repercussions of climate change on people's health and, vice versa, the consequences of health effects on the economy could provide more realistic scenario projections and could be more useful for adaptation policy.