Keeping global warming to below 2°C will prevent more than 80% of heat-related deaths by 2100.
That’s according to scientists who researched the impact of climate change directly on the Middle East and North Africa – a region where the frequency of extreme heat is only growing.
The study, published in the Lancet Planetary Health, expects the number of heat-related deaths in this part of the world to grow to 123 people per 100,000 – if emissions don’t decrease.
These deaths can be averted if the Paris Agreement goal is followed, the scientists stress – but if this isn’t achieved, the number of deaths will be 60 times higher than it is today.
So far, the planet has warmed by 1.2°C – but many expect the 1.5°C mark to be crossed in the coming years.
Air conditioning is commonly used as the defence to these high temperatures – but lead author of the study, Shakoor Hajat, a professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, explained that this won’t enough in the long run.
“Even with stronger action, countries in the region need to develop ways other than air-conditioning to protect their citizens from the dangers of extreme heat,” he said.
“Strengthening health systems and better coordination between MENA countries will be key in tackling the health impacts of climate change in the region.”