China could see more than 27,000 additional heat-related deaths each year in its cities if the world’s temperature rises by just half a degree above the UN baseline of 1.5C, a new study has warned. The research, published in the journal Nature Communications on Tuesday, warned that China would experience a faster rate of warming than the global average and this could increase the population’s vulnerability to heatwaves. “The heat-related health risk will probably be aggravated in future,” the study said and urged the authorities to develop new adaptive measures to mitigate the risk. The publication of the research follows a heatwave across much of China last month in which daytime temperatures reached the high thirties and often remained above 30C at night. The new research looked at heat-related deaths in Chinese cities between 1986 and 2005 – also taking into account factors such as the age of the population and levels of socio-economic development – and used the data to calculate the respective impact of an average increase in global temperatures of 1.5C and 2C compared with pre-industrial levels. A report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published last year said the temperature increase was likely to reach 1.5C between 2030 and 2052 if current rates persist and used this figure as the basis for its assessments. The report said that limiting the increase in global temperatures to 1.5C, compared with its previous benchmark of 2C, would help avoid a number of adverse consequences but warned that this would require a series of unprecedented measures. The Nature Communications study was conducted by a team of Chinese and European scientists. The rate of heat-related deaths between 1986 and 2005 in China was 32 for every million people, the study found. This rate will more than double – to 67 deaths per million – between 2060 and 2099 if the average increase in global temperatures is 1.5C. But with a rise of 2C, the death rate could rise to 81 per million. Researchers compared the results to similar studies conducted in the US and found that the mortality rate in China urban centres had been higher than in America over the past 40 years – a sign of the country’s lower adaptability to global warming. Yang Fuqiang, a senior adviser to the China programme of the National Resources Defence Council, a US-based environmental group, said the findings were in line with similar studies conducted by the UN. He said China’s high rates of heat-related mortality compared with the US were probably down to the latter’s better adaptation techniques. “The US is a developed country, its air conditioners and health care, such as emergency services, tend to be better,” he said. “China needs to promote the knowledge of heat reduction techniques such as the use of air conditioners to more of the population, such as the elderly.” The UN’s 2019 Climate Action Summit will be held in New York next month to discuss action to curb global warming. However, following the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and a grim global economic outlook, Yang said he did not think curbing emissions would be a priority for many governments. “It is unlikely we will see concrete results from the upcoming summit without leadership from major countries such as the US and China,” he said.