A billion people could be living under a potentially lethal combination of heat and humidity if the planet reaches a temperature rise level of 2°C.
With COP26 switching its focus today on science and innovation, the Met Office has published a new research warning that numbers of people affected by heat stress could increase 15-fold if the world is to embrace a temperature rise that is 0.5°C above the Paris Agreement climate target.
Heat stress is defined as a wet-bulb temperature greater than 32°C, a measurement that takes into account humidity, temperature, solar radiation, wind speed.
The modelling from the UK’s national weather service also suggests a 4.0°C rise could see nearly half of the world’s population living in areas potentially affected by the worst impacts of climate change.
Dr Andy Hartley, Climate Impacts Lead at the Met Office, said: “Vulnerable members of the population and those with physical outdoor jobs are at greater risk of adverse health effects.
“Currently, the metric is met in several locations, such as parts of India, but our analysis shows that with a rise of 4.0°C, extreme heat risk could affect people in large swathes of most of the world’s continents.”