The 25th UN Climate Conference (COP25) may not have been the a key moment to finalize the rulebook for the Paris Agreement on climate change, but was an opportunity to address 5 key actions that will both increase climate ambition and protect our health. On the website of the WHO, 5 recommendations are made with regards to action.
1 Commit to save lives, cut carbon emissions and clean air
Air pollution kills over seven million people a year, and 2/3 of outdoor air pollution is from burning fossil fuels. As a national or subnational government, you can achieve air quality that is safe for your citizens, and bring down the carbon emissions that are driving climate change.
2 Commit to invest in climate action, public health and sustainable development
The global health benefits of strong climate mitigation outweigh the financial costs, and there are highly cost-effective health interventions to protect people from climate risks. However, less than 0.5% of multilateral climate finance goes to health protection. As a financial actor, you can commit to significantly scale up your investment in proven interventions for climate-resilient health systems, and in air quality monitoring and policy implementation.
3 Place health at the heart of the Paris Agreement
While 2/3rds of current Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the Paris Agreement mention health, and the health sector is among the five sectors most often described as vulnerable to climate change, this is often not followed through into health action. The health co-benefits of climate actions are rarely reflected, with only 1/5th of NDCs mentioning health in the context of mitigation and 1/10th of NDCs mentioning health co-benefits.
4 Implement and monitor national policies that protect the health of your citizens from climate change
In a WHO country survey of 101 governments, about half reported to have developed a national health and climate change strategy or plan. Only 53% of governments reported a high to moderate level of implementation of their strategies, and less than 10% indicated to have sufficient budget to fully cover their implementation costs.
5 Evaluate and promote the health co-benefits from climate action
The value of health gains from climate action are about twice as large as the cost of mitigation policies at global level, and meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement could save about a million lives a year worldwide by 2050 through reductions in air pollution alone.
EGHRIN members take these WHO recommendations at heart, and continue their research into the current and future impacts on human health, and how our societies can lessen those adverse impacts.
EGHRIN partner Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) for example has participated in COP25. ISGlobal is organising a session in the parallel programme, the round table entitled Planetary Health: A Balance between the Welfare of the Planet and that of Human Beings .