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Lancet. 1997 Nov 8;350(9088):1341-9.

Short-term improvements in public health from global-climate policies on fossil-fuel combustion: an interim report. Working Group on Public Health and Fossil-Fuel Combustion.

[No authors listed]



Most public-health assessments of climate-control policies have focused on long-term impacts of global change. Our interdisciplinary working group assesses likely short-term impacts on public health.


We combined models of energy consumption, carbon emissions, and associated atmospheric particulate-matter (PM) concentration under two different forecasts: business-as-usual (BAU); and a hypothetical climate-policy scenario, where developed and developing countries undertake significant reductions in carbon emissions.


We predict that by 2020, 700,000 avoidable deaths (90% CI 385,000-1,034,000) will occur annually as a result of additional PM exposure under the BAU forecasts when compared with the climate-policy scenario. From 2000 to 2020, the cumulative impact on public health related to the difference in PM exposure could total 8 million deaths globally (90% CI 4.4-11.9 million). In the USA alone, the avoidable number of annual deaths from PM exposure in 2020 (without climate-change-control policy) would equal in magnitude deaths associated with human immunodeficiency diseases or all liver diseases in 1995.


The mortality estimates are indicative of the magnitude of the likely health benefits of the climate-policy scenario examined and are not precise predictions of avoidable deaths. While characterized by considerable uncertainty, the short-term public-health impacts of reduced PM exposures associated with greenhouse-gas reductions are likely to be substantial even under the most conservative set of assumptions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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