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Attempts to Hinder Climate Action Stall Progress

Attempts to Hinder Climate Action Stall Progress at International Political Talks

Bonn, 28 June 2019 - To the dismay of health groups and over the objections of many delegations to this week’s climate talks in Bonn, negotiators failed to adopt the scientific findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Special Report on 1.5C (1) following the sustained opposition by Saudi Arabia, the US and Russia, and despite recognizing that the report represents “the best available science.”

GCHA Executive Director Dr. Jeni Miller said: “At this point, the stakes couldn’t be higher. For a handful of countries to block reception of this report is the height of irresponsibility to their peoples and to the global community. It is dismaying that some parties continue to oppose the consensus findings of the scientific community on climate change”.

“The IPCC 1.5 report made clear that we must act quickly and decisively to prevent catastrophic harm to people alive now, and to our children and our children’s children. We can achieve the transformational change that is needed, but only if we set high ambitions, quickly transition away from fossil fuels, and actually use the best scientific evidence available to underpin policy decisions.”

The decision came on the heels of the EU’s failure to set a firm target date for achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions. The majority of EU member countries backed a proposal committing the EU to net zero by 2050 in line with the recommendations of the IPCC1.5 report, but were blocked by Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and Estonia. The other 24 EU countries remain committed to the target.

A similar battle over climate change is underway at the G20 meeting this week in Japan. And inside the US, previous federal regulations designed to substantially reduce power plant emissions have just been rolled back and replaced with new regulations much friendlier to coal.

These efforts to slow or reverse progress on climate change continue at a time when, to protect human health and well-being, the scientific community has made clear we must instead vigorously accelerate climate action.

Recognizing this urgency, just this week, over 70 health organizations in the US, including the American Medical Association, the American Heart Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics released a Call to Action and declared climate change a “health emergency”, joining a growing chorus of voices from the health sector, from students around the world, and from many countries committed to limiting global warming to 1.5C.

“Despite the efforts to block it, the momentum for change is growing,” says Miller. “The health community, responding to the scientific evidence and guided by an ethical responsibility to the patients and communities we serve, is increasingly involved in pushing for action on climate change, to limit global warming and to prepare people and communities for the impacts we can’t prevent. We’ve got to heed the science. People’s lives and health are at stake.”

Ends

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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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