Global Health Impacts for Economic Models of Climate Change: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Ann Am Thorac Soc. 2022 Jul;19(7):1203-1212. doi: 10.1513/AnnalsATS.202110-1193OC.


Rationale: Avoiding excess health damages attributable to climate change is a primary motivator for policy interventions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, the health benefits of climate mitigation, as included in the policy assessment process, have been estimated without much input from health experts. Objectives: In accordance with recommendations from the National Academies in a 2017 report on approaches to update the social cost of greenhouse gases (SC-GHG), an expert panel of 26 health researchers and climate economists gathered for a virtual technical workshop in May 2021 to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis and recommend improvements to the estimation of health impacts in economic-climate models. Methods: Regionally resolved effect estimates of unit increases in temperature on net all-cause mortality risk were generated through random-effects pooling of studies identified through a systematic review. Results: Effect estimates and associated uncertainties varied by global region, but net increases in mortality risk associated with increased average annual temperatures (ranging from 0.1% to 1.1% per 1°C) were estimated for all global regions. Key recommendations for the development and utilization of health damage modules were provided by the expert panel and included the following: not relying on individual methodologies in estimating health damages; incorporating a broader range of cause-specific mortality impacts; improving the climate parameters available in economic models; accounting for socioeconomic trajectories and adaptation factors when estimating health damages; and carefully considering how air pollution impacts should be incorporated in economic-climate models. Conclusions: This work provides an example of how subject-matter experts can work alongside climate economists in making continued improvements to SC-GHG estimates.

Keywords: climate change; economic models; mortality; social cost of greenhouse gases; temperature.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants* / analysis
  • Air Pollution* / adverse effects
  • Climate Change
  • Global Health
  • Greenhouse Gases*
  • Humans
  • Models, Economic


  • Air Pollutants
  • Greenhouse Gases