Increased socio-economic development in low development countries can reduce the risk of people suffering serious harm from heatwaves, shows a new study published in Nature Communications.
The study, which was published on 11 January, has looked at how people living in both developed and developing countries will be at risk of being affected by heatwaves.
With global warming of 1.5°C in 2075, people living in less developed countries are likely to be more affected by heatwaves than the populations of developed countries would be with 2° warming, the study has found.
More intense heatwaves
“With rising global mean temperatures, the frequency and intensity of heatwaves increase. The tropics and the sub-tropics, which is where most of the least developed and developing countries are located, will in the near term experience a more rapid intensification of heatwaves,” says Jana Sillmann, research director at CICERO Center for International Climate Research and one of the authors of the study.
“For instance, heatwaves that are very unusual under today’s climate will by 2040 occur on a regular basis if we continue emitting greenhouse gases at the current rate,” Sillmann says.
If global warming is stabilised below 1.5°C, the risk of people in developing countries suffering serious harm during heatwaves will be significantly reduced. The risk will also be lowered if these countries experience rapid socio-economic development, the study shows.
Better healthcare lowers heatwave risk
“Socio-economic development strengthens healthcare and increases the number of people having higher education and a better income. This means that people get better access to healthcare during a heatwave, and get better equipped to deal with heatwave impacts, such as having access to air condition and a home that provides some shelter from the heat,” Sillmann explains.
“Being able to escape the heat reduces the risk of suffering from heat-induced health problems such as dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat strokes, which may all lead to premature death,” she adds.
The study – entitled “Half a degree and rapid socioeconomic development matter for heatwave risk” – has been written as part of the CiXPAG and ClimateXL research projects, which are funded by The Research Council of Norway.
In order to limit global warming to 1.5°C by 2100, we will need to cut carbon emissions by 45 percent by 2030, according to the so-called “1.5°C report” which was published by the UN Climate Panel (IPCC) in October.
The world’s average temperature has already increased by around 1°C as a result of climate change and is likely to reach 1.5° between 2030 and 2052 if global warming continues at the current rate, the report said.
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