Consortium Statement on the Lancet Countdown’s 2023 U.S. Brief

The Lancet Countdown’s 2023 U.S. Brief documents the escalating threat of fossil fuel pollution as the common enemy of our health and our climate in the United States. The Report, a comprehensive yearly analysis tracking the impact of climate on health across 47 indicators, shows, for example, that older adults (65 and older) in the U.S. experienced a 138% increase in exposure to heat waves from 2013-2022 and that U.S. infants under a year old experienced a 61% increase in exposure to heatwaves in that same time period.

The report also documents that in 2020, air pollution, in the form of fine particulate matter  (PM2.5) contributed to 32,400 deaths in the U.S. and that fossil fuel combustion accounted for approximately 41.5% of these premature deaths.

The Lancet Countdown 2023 U.S. Brief provides valuable evidence to summarize the health harms of fossil fuel pollution and climate change that doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals are seeing in their patients in communities across the country: from increased heat stroke and illness to respiratory complaints like asthma and COPD exacerbations to increased risk of heart attack and stroke. These health harms will multiply without concerted action.

The Lancet report also points to a critical silver lining in addressing the climate crisis: that transitioning energy systems to zero-emission renewables would be a boon for human health, simultaneously reducing premature deaths from air pollution and mitigating the heat-trapping pollution that is driving climate change.

The Consortium encourages policymakers and the public to review the findings of the Lancet 2023 U.S. brief thoroughly and understand the urgent need to adopt policies that make protecting and enhancing public health the primary consideration in making a rapid transition to renewable, non-combustion energy.