Rich and Poor: Who’s Really Paying the Heating Bill?
report by the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health concludes that the health costs of air pollution and climate change already exceed $800 billion per year, a price tag that is expected to rise. With 12% of the world’s population already spending at least 10% of their household budgets on healthcare, the additional pressures of climate change will push more people into poverty each year.
Climate change will worsen existing disparities in healthcare resources and accessibility, and exacerbate psychological stress, racism and other forms of discrimination. Those who are most vulnerable—children, seniors, residents of developing countries, and people living below the poverty line—will suffer the most. These groups:
- bear the greatest burdens of air pollution and have the least access to healthcare
- are more likely to live in areas vulnerable to climate change
- have higher levels of existing health risks to begin with
- live in communities with limited access to healthcare services
- have a limited ability to relocate or rebuild after a disaster.