Media release

Heatwave deaths linked to human-induced climate change

The human toll of manmade climate change has become clearer today with scientists in Europe finding it’s to blame for hundreds of heatwave deaths.


The team of scientists studied Europe’s deadly 2003 heatwave, using modelling to calculate that the majority of the 735 heat-related deaths recorded in central Paris were due to human-induced climate change.


The study, published in the Environmental Research Letters journal, also found manmade climate change had increased the risk of heat-related deaths by about 70% in central Paris and 20% in London.


Climate and Health Alliance president and heat and health researcher Dr Liz Hanna says it’s a groundbreaking study.


“This research is highly significant, as we can now separate the numbers – those who would have died in a naturally occurring heatwave, and the numbers who died because of burning fossil fuels and other activities contributing to climate change,” Dr Hanna said.


“We can now track the line of responsibility. Human-induced climate change is killing people and more must be done to avoid future deaths.


“The message is clear: those who block Australia’s shift to a green economy will be responsible for future unnecessary deaths.”


Dr Hanna says climate change is a significant health issue facing Australia, where heatwaves are becoming more frequent and intense and more people will be exposed to temperatures in the high 40s.


“We know climate change has increased five-fold the likelihood of Australia experiencing an intensely hot summer.”



Climate and Health Alliance is a coalition of Australian health professionals and organisations that want to see climate change addressed through prompt policy action because of the grave risks it poses to our health.