Heatwave-related death rates will take high numbers by 2080, according to a new study released Tuesday. The number of people dying from severe heatwaves is likely to increase steadily in tropical and subtropical regions if we fail to adapt to future climate temperatures.
A global new Monash-led study is the first to project upcoming heatwave-related deaths. It aimed at helping policymakers in taking steps to adapt to and mitigate the negative effects of rising greenhouse gas emissions and plan strategies to handle climate change.
“Future heatwaves in particular will be more frequent, more intense and will last much longer,” said Associate Professor Guo.
Published today in PLOS Medicine, the study recommends reducing greenhouse gas emissions at a high level to decrease future deaths related to heatwaves.
The study analyzed data from 412 communities across 20 different countries and regions including North, South, and Central America to Europe, Asia, and Oceania. Researchers estimated potential death rates related to heatwaves for the period of 2031 to 2080.
Researchers found that under the extreme scenario with no adaptation to climate change, the expected heatwave-related deaths in the Philippines would 12 times increase in 2031 to 2080 compared to the period 1971 to 2020.
European countries and the United States could face a smaller increase in deaths from heatwaves, while Britain will see four times more excess deaths under the same scenario.
“If the Australia government cannot put effort into reducing the impacts of heatwaves, more people will die because of heatwaves in the future,” Associate Professor Guo warned.