Global warming has saved 500,000 lives in England and Wales in the last 20 years

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By Paul Homewood

It’s official; a warmer climate has saved lives in England & Wales:

1. Overview

This article estimates the change in deaths and hospital admissions associated with rising average temperatures in England and Wales in 2001 to 2020; the trends are relevant to climate change but may also reflect other factors such as improved healthcare and housing.

These experimental statistics are a step towards regular, transparent Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates of climate-health impacts, which are diagnosis-specific and inform policy-makers and the public. Our methods will develop over time and should be read alongside important government reports and the scientific literature on climate risk.

We found relatively little increase in deaths caused by warmer weather and a reduction in deaths caused by cold winters, leading to a net decrease in deaths; in contrast, there was a net increase in hospital admissions linked to warmer weather, especially from injuries.

Previous research has linked warmer weather to injuries from outdoor activities, increased violence and mental health problems; direct harm from extreme heat is still less common but this is likely to change over time.

Our findings are consistent with previous research and confirm that the warming trajectory predicted by climate scientists is already affecting health in England and Wales; however, in the UK’s cool-to-temperate climate, the mortality impact is limited and appropriate policy and behaviour changes could mitigate much of the health risk from increasing temperatures.

5. Changes in deaths from conditions associated with warmer and colder days

A general decline over the years 2001 to 2020 in the rate of deaths involving causes associated with warm or cold temperatures is shown in Figure 1.

Over a 20-year period the estimated change in deaths associated with warm or cold temperature was a net decrease of 555,103, an average of 27,755 deaths per year (Table 1). A decrease in deaths from outcomes associated with cold temperature greatly outnumbers deaths associated with warm temperature.

Warmer weather in the UK rarely reaches temperatures that cause direct heat-related harms. While the reduction in deaths may relate to climate change, some evidence also suggests the population has reduced vulnerability to cold, see more detail in the Discussion section.

I bet we won’t hear that on the BBC!”


JANUARY 17, 2022