Image courtesy Global Climate and Health Alliance)

(Glasgow, November 1, 2021) — World leaders must make health and social equity the beating heart of COP26 negotiations, by taking concerted action to limit global heating to less than 1.5oC in line with Paris Climate Agreement and findings of the scientific community and delivering a rapid and just transition away from fossil fuels—beginning with immediate cuts to subsidies, said the Global Climate and Health Alliance, today.

“People are dying and being harmed now by climate change: the decisions made in these next two weeks will define the health and wellbeing of people all over the world for decades to come”, said Jeni Miller Executive Director at the Global Climate and Health Alliance, made up of health professional organizations, health NGOs, and health and environment alliances from around the world.

“At COP26, national leaders must prioritise health and social equity over politics, profit and unproven technological fixes”, added Miller. “Health and equity must become the lynchpin around which action is taken to reduce global emissions, in order to mitigate the impacts of climate change on human health.”

“The global climate crisis is clearly also a growing health crisis and is already having an unprecedented impact on people’s lives and wellbeing worldwide, with devastating heat waves and other extreme weather events causing deaths, and drought driving millions of people in already-vulnerable communities to the brink of famine”, said Miller.

“Current climate commitments have us on the path for temperature rises of between 2.7 and 3.1 degrees Celsius this century. COP26 delegations must work together towards getting emissions in line with the 1.5oC limit agreed six years ago in Paris, if we are to prevent catastrophic harm to people’s health and wellbeing”.

“To achieve this, governments must agree to phase out public funding and facilitating of fossil fuels, with high income countries—which bear the responsibility for the bulk of climate warming emissions to date—making the greatest cuts the fastest”.

“High income countries must also deliver the promised US$100B climate finance per year to support lower income countries to address climate change, including funds to help countries protect their people and their health systems from the impacts of climate change we are already seeing, as well as funds to support climate mitigation measures.”

“In addition, every government must commit to building climate resilient, low-carbon, sustainable health systems, while leveraging the unparalleled public funding being invested in Covid-19 recovery packages to support climate action, and reduce social and health inequities, thus averting an even greater threat to health and economies”.

“Countries that actually deliver on commitments, policies, and investments to tackle climate change, and that do so with health and equity explicitly in mind, will reap the greatest health benefits for their populace, and see health cost savings, while doing their part to avert far greater warming. From cleaner air to secure access to healthy foods, to safer streets and healthier more liveable cities — the potential benefits to people’s health and wellbeing in countries that act on climate change are immense”.

In October, more than 500 organisations representing 46 million nurses, doctors and health professionals worldwide—about two thirds of the global health workforce—signed an open letter to the 197 government leaders and national delegations ahead of COP26, warning that the climate crisis is the single biggest health threat facing humanity, and calling on world leaders to deliver on climate action.

“The health community worldwide is calling for action on climate change because we recognize it as a major threat to health, and because climate action presents huge opportunities for health. What we want to see out of COP is a recommitment to the promises made, in service of the “right to health,” in the Paris Agreement. The science is clear: this COP must accelerate climate action, to avert the unfolding climate and health crisis and to deliver a healthier future for all.”

Image courtesy United Nations.

COP26 Event: November 6th Global Conference on Health and Climate Change

Health professionals and leaders from around the world will be attending the Global Health and Climate Conference on Saturday November 6th, 9:00-17:30 GMT, during the COP26 UN climate change conference.

The Global Conference on Health & Climate Change is organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Climate and Health Alliance (GCHA), in close collaboration with the Glasgow Caledonian University and its Centre for Climate Justice, the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change, the Centre on Climate Change and Planetary Health of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and the Wellcome Trust.

It is being held at the Glasgow Caledonian University (Cowcaddens Road, G4 0BA), as well as online via livestream at who.int and climateandhealthalliance.org.

Keynote speakers include Ms Mary Robinson, Former President of Ireland and Chair of The Elders; Ms Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister of Australia and Chair of Wellcome Trust; Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General; Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council; Jeni Miller, Executive Director of Global Climate and Health Alliance; Professor Tahseen Jafry, Director of GCU’s Centre for Climate Justice; and ministers of health from several vulnerable countries.

Dr Fiona Godlee, Editor of the British Medical Journal, and Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director of the Environment, Climate Change and Health Department, will moderate a series of conversations with high-level representatives from various sectors—including in energy, transport, nature, food systems, and finance—on the transformational actions needed in order to protect people’s health from climate change.