The Lancet Countdown is an international, multidisciplinary collaboration, dedicated to monitoring the evolving health profile of climate change, and providing an independent assessment of the delivery of commitments made by governments worldwide under the Paris Agreement.
The 2019 report presents an annual update of 41 indicators across five key domains: climate change impacts, exposures, and vulnerability; adaptation, planning, and resilience for health; mitigation actions and health co-benefits; economics and finance; and public and political engagement. The report represents the findings and consensus of 35 leading academic institutions and UN agencies from every continent. Each year, the methods and data that underpin the Lancet Countdown’s indicators are further developed and improved, with updates described at each stage of this report. The collaboration draws on the world-class expertise of climate scientists; ecologists; mathematicians; engineers; energy, food, and transport experts; economists; social and political scientists; public health professionals; and doctors, to generate the quality and diversity of data required.
The science of climate change describes a range of possible futures, which are largely dependent on the degree of action or inaction in the face of a warming world. The policies implemented will have far-reaching effects in determining these eventualities, with the indicators tracked here monitoring both the present-day effects of climate change, as well as the worldwide response. Understanding these decisions as a choice between one of two pathways—one that continues with the business as usual response and one that redirects to a future that remains “well below 2°C”—helps to bring the importance of recognising the effects of climate change and the necessary response to the forefront.
Evidence provided by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the International Energy Agency, and the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration clarifies the degree and magnitude of climate change experienced today and contextualises these two pathways.