‘Climate change should be added to death certificates’

Soaring heat has been responsible for at least 50 times more deaths than recorded on Australian death certificates, according to a survey

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Heat-related deaths have been underreported on Australia’s national records, according to experts from The Australian National University (ANU).

Researchers suggest the amount of deaths attributed to climate change is at least 50 times more than recorded on death certificates.

Published in Lancet Planetary Health, figures show over the past 11 years, 340 deaths in Australia were recorded as being due to excessive heat, but the statistical analysis found the real figure could be as high as 36,765 deaths.

Dr Arnagretta Hunter, from the ANU Medical School, said: “Climate change is a killer, but we don’t acknowledge it on death certificates.

“If you have an asthma attack and die during heavy smoke exposure from bushfires, the death certificate should include that information.

“We can make a diagnosis of disease like coronavirus, but we are less literate in environmental determinants like hot weather or bushfire smoke. Climate change is the single greatest health threat that we face globally even after we recover from coronavirus.”

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