Vulnerable countries suffer as heat epidemics hit worker health and productivity

worker health

Creative Commons: Dan DeLuca, 2008

Rising temperatures are already hitting the global workforce, and failing to tackle climate could risk billions of dollars in lost economic output and undermine efforts to reduce poverty.

That’s the stark warning of a new report released for International Workers’ Memorial Day, which shows that as extreme heat forces people to take more breaks, work less, and face increasingly serious health risks, families, incomes, and economic output all suffer.

According to the analysis from the Climate Vulnerable Forum and the International Labour Organisation, some emerging economies could see 10 per cent of working hours lost, with the lowest paid workers facing the biggest risks.

Globally, failing to tackle climate change could cost US$2.4 trillion a year by 2030 in lost productivity and health costs.

Coming just days after governments reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris Agreement this latest report is yet another reminder to leaders of the the huge benefits for their citizens and their economies of turning their national pledges into strong and definitive actions.

Key Points

  • The solution: a just transition to a 100 per cent renewable future for all. While workers continue to be exposed to the impacts of rising temperatures, they are also bearing the brunt of the world’s addiction to dirty fossil fuels, with oil and coal volatility already costing thousands of jobs in 2016. Only by setting a clear roadmap to a future powered by clean, secure renewables – and one that puts workers at its centre – will governments protect their citizens and their economies.

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