Climate change is greatest health threat: AIA – Life Insurance – Insurance News


Life insurer AIA has released a report highlighting the “inextricable link” between the environment and public health, with climate change singled out as the greatest global threat.

Climate change not only causes direct impacts such as storms, droughts and floods but the toll also can be experienced indirectly through water quality, air quality and ecological change, according to the report, The Environment and Our Health.

It says mental health is also likely to come under strain from climate change, describing the consequences as “significant mental distress” and possibly exacerbating pre-existing psychological conditions.

“Climate change is the greatest global health threat of this century,” the report says. “Overall, the awareness of climate change and its current and future impacts can result in long-term distress.

“There is an inextricable link between our health and the environment, which is becoming increasingly evident.”

The report says almost a quarter of all annual deaths – 12 million – globally are linked to the environment, and nearly two-thirds of these deaths are due to non-communicable diseases.

Non-communicable diseases can be affected by risk factors that originate in the environment, or by risk factors that are influenced by the environment.

“Concerningly, the overall impact of the environment on human health is escalating,” the report says.

Climate change is one of four environmental risk factors listed in the report. The other three are air pollution; agriculture and food production; and urbanisation and the built environment.

AIA CEO Damien Mu says “urgent attention” is required to address the impact of the environment on public health.

“We are at a critical point where we, as a society need to take concrete steps to improve the way we interact with the environment,” Mr Mu said.

“Encouraging policies and programs that consider both the impact on the environment and how those then exacerbate non-communicable diseases is an upstream preventative approach that governments and corporates should embrace for the benefit of all Australians.”

Click here to download the report.

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