Killer Summer Heat: Paris Agreement Compliance Could Avert Hundreds of Thousands of Needless Deaths in America's Cities

Issue Brief
June 29, 2017

Propelled by fossil fuel pollution, climate change has sent global temperatures soaring. And that brings deadly consequences for human health, in the United States and around the world. In 45 of the largest urban areas of the United States, an increase in dangerously hot days could cause summertime deaths to jump by almost 2,100 percent by the 2090s, compared to the 1975 to 2010 average. We could limit this damage by fully honoring our international promises to cut emissions in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

If we hold up our end of the bargain, and the rest of the world does the same, the largest urban areas in the United States could reduce the annual number of excess deaths on summer days. To be exact, we could prevent about 2,480 deaths in the 2040s, and about 12,820 deaths in the 2090s.

Current commitments to cut climate-changing pollution under the Paris Agreement, however, do not go far enough to fully protect human health from dangerous heat. To most effectively minimize our health risks, the global community should work even harder to clean up power plants, vehicles, and other major contributors to climate change.