Dann Mitchell - Avoided heat-related mortality under targeted Paris Agreement scenarios

Event type: 
17 November 2017
11.00am - 12am

Climate Change Research Centre, Seminar Room, Mathews Building 4th floor, UNSW, Sydney

Dann Mitchell
School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, UK
Climate Change Research Centre, UNSW, Australia

The impact of extreme heat events on human health is amongst the most concerning consequences of climate change. Even small changes in globally averaged temperature can lead to amplified extremesand localised impacts on health. Recently, under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, there has been a call for research into impacts associated with a 1.5C or 2C globally-averaged surface temperature anomaly. Here, for the first time, we use climate model experiments designed specifically for the Paris Agreement to assess the human health impacts associated with extreme heat. Our analysis shows that in high-population regions, e.g. Central Africa, India and Europe, an additional 10-20 days of heat events can occur on average every year. Modeling the most extreme historical heat-mortality event on record as if it occurred under future climate scenarios shows that for key European cities, stabilising climate at 1.5C would decrease temperature-related mortality by 15-25% per summer compared with stabilisation at 2C, assuming no adaptation and constant vulnerability. Given the robustness of our results, we maintain that for heat-related mortality there is a scientific argument for stabilising climate at 1.5C over 2C.