At COP28: Rising Temperatures Demand a Response to Non-Communicable Diseases

According to a recent report, global warming has surpassed the limits of human survival, posing a significant threat to our well-being and existence.

The upcoming 28th United Nations climate conference commencing on 30th November in Dubai has committed to highlighting health concerns. However, the agenda glaringly omits non-communicable diseases, which are poised to intensify with rising temperatures. Preventing climate and heat-induced illnesses must be woven into the core deliberations of the Conference of Parties (COP) 28 rather than being relegated to mere peripheral discussions.

According to a recent report, global warming has surpassed the limits of human survival, posing a significant threat to our well-being and existence. Rising temperatures are causing immediate health impacts and increasing the risk of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the long term. Despite the situation’s urgency, we must adequately address these issues in the upcoming 28th United Nations climate conference (COP28) agenda.

The tangible impacts of this changing climate — heatwaves, raging wildfires, and soaring temperatures — are now daily headlines. Yet, the mounting toll on human health and, by extension, the global economy is alarmingly underreported. From acute afflictions like heatstroke to chronic conditions such as kidney disease, the health bill of our warming planet is escalating. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s recent remarks that we’ve transitioned from “global warming” to “global boiling” should jolt the financial community into recognising the profound economic implications ahead.

Yet, amidst this surge in health threats, a crucial aspect remains largely sidelined: non-communicable diseases (NCDs) exacerbated by extreme heat. Predictive models warn of surging mortality rates from heat-related NCDs by 2030, predominantly in economically significant regions like Asia, Europe, and North America. It’s not just a health crisis; it’s an impending economic one, with substantial disruptions to workforces and healthcare systems.

The ‘wet bulb temperature’ is critical to understanding this risk, an indicator of temperature combined with humidity. Human survival becomes compromised when this metric breaches specific thresholds, jeopardising productivity and economic stability. If current trends hold, we risk pushing vast swathes of the global populace out of habitable zones. According to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, the world could see over nine million climate-related deaths annually by the end of the century.

Alarmingly, even as the Paris Agreement set forth ambitious targets, we find ourselves already breaching set thresholds. Warnings from the likes of the World Meteorological Organization underscore our precarious path, with threats not just to human health but to food security, water resources, and ecosystems — the very foundations of many global economies.

Furthermore, let’s consider the workforce, particularly outdoor workers in sectors like agriculture and construction. They are now emerging as the frontline victims of our changing climate. Inadequate protective measures in many countries, and some cases, regressive policy changes, threaten not just individual health but sectoral productivity and economic contributions. The ramifications for global supply chains, commodity prices, and overall financial stability cannot be overstated.

Beyond the direct heat impacts, the broader effects of climate change on food supplies present a pressing concern for global markets. As crops fail, livestock suffer, and fisheries decline, we’re confronted with potential volatility in food prices and security, with cascading implications for economies worldwide.

Global warming has surpassed the limits of human survival, resulting in severe health consequences and an increased risk of NCDs. Failing to prioritise prevention strategies and support effective climate action during the upcoming COP28 negotiations puts the global population at further risk. We must take urgent measures to address the health impacts of climate change, mitigate global warming, and support the adaptation of vulnerable communities. We hope to secure a sustainable future for humankind through collective efforts.


Medika Life has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your health care provider(s). We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by Medika Life

Christopher Nial
Christopher Nial
Christopher Nial is closely monitoring climate change impact on global public health. He serves as a Senior Partner at FINN Partners, is part of the Global Public Health Group, and co-leads public health initiatives across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
More from this author