World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 

COP24: A million lives could be saved by 2050

COP24: A million lives could be saved by 2050 through climate action, UN health agency reveals

5 December 2018


Taking bold climate action now, could help save a million lives and a lot of money by the middle of the century, said the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday, launching a special report as part of the ongoing COP24 climate conference in Katowice, Poland.

As the world is coming together to define ways to move forward on climate action and the realization of the objectives defined in the 2015 Paris Agreement, WHO stressed that it’s not just the planet that would benefit - an estimated one million lives could be saved through reductions in air pollution alone.

“The Paris Agreement is potentially the strongest health agreement of this century,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. “The evidence is clear that climate change is already having a serious impact on human lives and health. It threatens the basic elements we all need for good health – clean air, safe drinking water, nutritious food supply and safe shelter – and will undermine decades of progress in global health.”

The report also shows that the economic benefits of improved health would be twice as high as the economic cost of mitigating global warming, and fighting air pollution. The return on investment is even higher in countries key to tackling global emissions, such as China and India.

Exposure to air pollution causes 7 million deaths worldwide every year and costs an estimated US$ 5.11 trillion in welfare losses globally. In the 15 countries that have the highest greenhouse gas emissions, the health impacts of air pollution are estimated to cost more than 4 per cent of GDP. By contrast, actions to meet the Paris commitment of keeping warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, would cost around 1 per cent of global GDP, said WHO.

World Health Organization (WHO)

Air pollution is a major environmental risk to health.

The main driver of climate change is fossil fuel combustion which is also a major contributor to air pollution, and an important cause of poor health worldwide.

When health is taken into account, climate change mitigation is an opportunity, not a cost – Dr. Maria Neira, WHO Director of Public Health

“The true cost of climate change is felt in our hospitals and in our lungs. The health burden of polluting energy sources is now so high, that moving to cleaner and more sustainable choices for energy supply, transport and food systems effectively pays for itself,” says Dr. Maria Neira, Director of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health for WHO. “When health is taken into account, climate change mitigation is an opportunity, not a cost.”

Switching to low-carbon energy sources will not only improve air quality but provide additional opportunities for immediate health benefits. For example, introducing active transport options such as cycling will help increase physical activity that can help prevent diseases like diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

The report includes recommendations for decision-makers on how to tackle climate action and public health issues at the same time, including: policies aimed at reducing carbon emissions and air pollution; the mobilisation of mayors to effect local change; investment in “climate-smart” health facilities; and the leveraging of the health community as powerful public advocates for climate action.

“We now have a clear understanding of what needs to be done to protect health from climate change – from more resilient and sustainable healthcare facilities, to improved warning systems for extreme weather and infectious disease outbreaks. But the lack of investment is leaving the most vulnerable behind,” said Dr. Joy St John, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Climate and Other Determinants of Health.


ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

APEC : Leaders Issue Kuala Lumpur Declaration

The leaders of the 21 APEC member economies issued the Kuala Lumpur Declaration following the first-ever virtual 27th APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting chaired by Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin. Convening for the first time since the ... More>>

UN: Refugee Resettlement Numbers Fall To Lowest In Two Decades

Refugee resettlement numbers will be at a “record low” this year, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Wednesday, with only 15,425 people resettled in the first nine months of 2020, compared to more than 50,000 in 2019. In 2016, resettlement ... More>>

G20: Global Co-Operation And Strong Policy Action Needed For A Sustainable Recovery

The COVID-19 crisis has exposed major weaknesses in our economies that can only be fixed through greater global co-operation and strong, targeted policy action, according to a new OECD report presented to the Leaders of the G20 countries at their ... More>>

OECD: GDP Rebounded By 9.0% In The Third Quarter Of 2020 But Remains Below Pre-Pandemic High

Following the unprecedented falls in real gross domestic product (GDP) in the first half of the year in the wake of COVID-19 containment measures, GDP in the OECD area rebounded by 9.0% in the third quarter of 2020 but it remains 4.3% below its pre-crisis ... More>>