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COP25: Health sector denounces lack of funds

COP25: Health sector denounces lack of funds for global climate measures

Paris Deal’s “right to health” cannot be achieved without ambitious action

Madrid, 7 December 2019 --- The global health community meeting at the Global Climate and Health Summit alongside COP25 urged governments meeting at the climate negotiations in Madrid to turn words into action and start implementing measures to incorporate health into the COP agenda, as foreseen by the Paris Agreement (1).

Health professionals stressed that we must limit global warming to 1.5 degrees if we are serious about protecting the “right to health”. Therefore, it is key for countries to set ambitious commitments in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

Jeni Miller, Global Climate Health Alliance (GCHA) Executive Director, said: “Responding to the climate change challenge is no longer about how shall we do it and do we have the money to pay for it – it is about the political willingness to take adequate action. The time for words is long gone – today is the time for governments to get on with bold climate health action”.

A recent global survey by the World Health Organization on climate change and health indicates that a majority of countries are exposed, vulnerable and still unsupported to deal with the health impacts of climate change.

A report published today at the Summit concluded that climate vulnerable countries such as Tuvalu do not have access to international climate finance, reporting a lack of information for finance opportunities and a lack of capacity to develop financial proposals.

Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said: “Extreme heat waves, air pollution, and increasingly intense floods, wildfires and other natural disasters are already heavily impacting the human rights and health of millions of people. These effects will intensify, as our climate emergency accelerates. Climate change kills. By committing to human rights law, States pledged to take all possible measures to uphold their peoples' rights, including to health. That must mean stronger climate action – and accountability – now.”

Maria Neira, Director, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health, World Health Organization, said: For the Paris Agreement to be effective to protect people’s health, governments need to prioritize building health system resilience to climate change, and a growing number of national governments are clearly headed in that direction. By systematically including health in Nationally Determined Contributions – as well as National Adaptation Plans, climate finance pledges, and other climate plans — the Paris Agreement could become the strongest international health agreement of the century.

COP25 must lay the groundwork for countries to deliver ambitious updated climate action commitments, in line with limiting warming to 1.5°C, when revised NDCs and Long Term Strategies (LTS) are due in 2020. An important start on LTS was made on Net Zero pledges at the UN Climate Action Summit convened by Secretary General Antonio Guterrez in New York, where 77 countries and over 100 cities made net zero commitments.

These commitments and their full implementation will determine the outlook for human health and well-being on this planet.

The health cost savings, globally, from actions needed to limit warming to 1.5°C would more than pay for that mitigation, through reduced air pollution exposure alone. Significant additional health co-benefits will come from increased physical activity when countries improve their active and public transportation systems to reduce vehicle emissions; and from healthier diets through transformation of our food systems. These health co-benefits are above and beyond the health benefit of avoided climate change impacts themselves.

Integrating “health” into countries’ revised NDCs, and bringing the health sector into national climate policy and decision making can help deliver these benefits.

The next international climate negotiations, COP26, will be hosted in Glasgow, UK, 9 - 19 November 2020.--end--

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