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Climate change has been described as the biggest global health threat of the 21st century1 and has significant implications for gastrointestinal (GI) health and disease,2 which is the focus of this consensus commentary provided by the World Gastroenterology Organisation (WGO) Climate Change Working Group (CCWG). The CCWG has members from 18 countries representing high-income, medium-income and low-income populations. The WGO includes gastroenterology societies from 108 countries, which represent more than 60 000 medical practitioner members. The CCWG members, who have coauthored this consensus commentary, aim to review the scientific literature on climate and GI health, to encourage education and the undertaking of actionable measures including advocacy, and to further research and collaborations within the global GI community. The CCWG’s objective is to assist GI health providers worldwide to adapt to, and mitigate, the effects of climate change on health. The CCWG has partnered with three major GI journals, which are copublishing this commentary, given the timeliness and importance of the topic.3 4
Overview of the impact of climate change
The earth’s climate is changing because of increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which has already warmed by more than 1°C compared with preindustrial times. The aim of mitigation efforts is to keep the rise in global mean surface temperature (GMST) below 2°C by 2100. An increase of 2°C might not seem like a major change, but variations of similar magnitude have been associated with profound alterations of climate in the past. It is important to note that even if this somewhat arbitrary target can be met, catastrophic changes in earth ecosystems can still occur.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was established in 1988 with a mandate to assess relevant scientific literature related to climate change. It produces regular reports and updates about climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projects that …
Presented at This article is being published jointly in Gastroenterology, Gut and Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology. The article is identical except for minor stylistic and spelling differences in keeping with each journal’s style. Citations from any of the 3 journals can be used when citing this article.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.
Author note All authors contributed to the concept, content and final text, and review of the work, with the first five authors playing a lead role.