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COP26: Global Climate And Health Alliance Comment On Draft Text Implications For Health

Glasgow, 11 November 2021:- As COP26 moves well towards the end of its second week, the Global Climate and Health Alliance called for governments to match their climate commitments to the 1.5C limit for global heating, in order to protect people’s health from the worst impacts of climate change. 

On Wednesday, the COP26 UK Presidency released a draft version of the closing document for the COP, with a revised version due out by Friday morning which is expected to communicate key agreements emerging from the negotiations. 

“In response to the draft outcome texts, many countries voiced support for limiting global heating to 1.5C, which is vital for protecting people’s health”, said Jeni Miller, Executive Director of the Global Climate and Health Alliance. “However, most countries’ climate commitments remain well out of line with that, with only one out of 38 countries assessed by Climate Action Tracker on track for 1.5C, and the rest rated as “insufficient” or even “highly” or “critically” insufficient. We’re currently on a course to global heating of 2.4C above pre-industrial levels”.

“To close that gap and protect people from the worst impacts of climate change, governments must step up action to reduce emissions, by bringing revised national commitments yearly, until we’re on track for 1.5C”, continued Miller. “Every tenth of a degree of global warming will be counted in lost lives, just as every reduction in emissions will help improve people’s health."

“We welcome the draft text’s language regarding the protection of human rights, the right to health, Indigenous rights and intergenerational equity, and support the proposal to add the right to a healthy environment to the full list. These rights are crucial to ensuring the health of us all - and they must be retained in the final text - they are fundamental rights, not bargaining chips”, added Miller.

“The issue of new financing from wealthier countries to low and middle income countries has been contentious throughout the COP26 negotiations. Failure to deliver on previously promised funds eroded trust between countries - trust that is critical to securing the much needed progress at this COP”, said Miller.

“Without financial support, people in lower income countries, who are least responsible for climate change, will continue to experience devastating health impacts. Wealthy countries are not yet delivering on climate finance for adaptation to poorer nations, and that has got to change before the end of this week”.

"Our handwriting may be bad, but our message is clear”

A video featuring medical and health workers around the world calling for climate action by world leaders was released by WHO and the Global Climate and Health Alliance this week. Titled “Our handwriting may be bad, but our message is clear, it was released along with the delivery of a letter to the presidencies of both COP26 and 2022’s COP27 in Egypt from 46 million health workers calling for global climate action on health. The letter can be found here.

Click to watch video

The short two-minute mixed media film, commissioned by the Global Climate and Health Alliance and created by Wit and Wisdom, includes testimonies and calls to action from 25 health workers from around the world, who have borne witness to climate-related health impacts on their patients. The video’s conclusions take the form of medical prescription as a direct call to world leaders to accept climate action as a cure to the climate crisis.

#ClimatePrescription video on YouTube:

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