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Health groups alarmed that countries may drop IPCC science

Health groups alarmed that countries may drop IPCC science in climate agreement

Bonn, 24 June 2019 - The Global Climate and Health Alliance (GCHA) today decried the renewed opposition by Saudi Arabia to accepting the scientific findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Special Report on 1.5C (1), which warned that the world must reduce emissions substantially within just over a decade to avoid potentially catastrophic warming. GCHA calls upon world leaders to defend the role of science in global climate change action and decision making.

Delegations from around the world are meeting in Bonn, Germany, for midyear “intersessional” climate negotiations, picking up where discussions left off after COP24 in Poland. In Poland, the United States explicitly stated it “has not endorsed the findings of the report,” and the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait opposed the report’s adoption, shocking and angering other countries. If no decision is reached in discussions taking place today, Monday 24 June (CEST time), climate agreements will be made without including the latest findings of the world’s preeminent climate scientists and climate and health researchers.

GCHA Executive Director, Dr Jeni Miller said: “Our ability to protect people’s health and to provide healthcare is at serious risk from climate change. It is essential that the best scientific evidence be fully embraced by the world’s leaders as they chart a path forward. We urge governments to accept the IPCC report, and make it an official foundation for the implementation of the Paris climate agreement”.

The IPCC 1.5 report made starkly clear that the window for action to limit warming to the 1.5 level is very narrow – global emissions must begin to decrease by 2020, and must be nearly halved by 2030.

While 1.5 degrees does threaten human health, significantly greater harm will come with warming beyond that level. As indicated in the report, moving beyond 1.5C to 2C or higher exposes several hundreds of millions more people over the coming decades to climate risks and poverty, exposing more people to sea-level rise.

Moving beyond 1.5 also increases wildfires, risk of trauma and asthma exacerbation, and decreases yields from both fishing and key crops such as maize, rice, and wheat, worsening the risk of undernutrition. Additional impacts include those due to water insecurity, loss of workers’ productive capacity due to heat, as well as the myriad health impacts from extreme weather events, displacement, and migration.

The remaining 190+ countries party to the negotiations welcomed the report, and many have spoken out to emphasize its importance. Latin American countries, Canada, and the European Union have all praised the report and noted that they are already using its findings. Small Island Developing States, most of which have already experienced significant damage from rising sea levels, are calling for its adoption. Norway, Australia and Brazil have added their voices to this chorus.

Miller said: “The world’s children are taking to the streets to demand a response to climate change that protects their health, calling upon us all to heed the scientific consensus and act on the extreme urgency of this threat. We tell young people to value science, to study math; we tell them to take care of their own wellbeing, and to plan for their future. The world’s leaders must demonstrate that they value these things as well. It is a time for courage, for leaders to stand up for science, for health, and for the future.”

Note to Editors:
(1) The IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C of Global Warming is a distillation of global scientific and health research on the implications of warming of 1.5 degrees, as compared with 2 degrees or more.

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