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UNGA: Govts Must Take Decisive Action By Matching Carbon Targets With COVID-19 Recovery Packages

Responding to the statement by UN Secretary General António Guterres that “we need sustainable COVID-19 recovery plans that tackle climate change” during the September 24 High-Level Climate Change Roundtable at the UN General Assembly [1], Global Climate and Health Alliance Executive Director Jeni Miller said:

“As the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are felt around the world and compounded by climate change impacts such as heat stress, US wildfires and floods in China, the Global Climate and Health Alliance (GCHA) welcomes Secretary General Guterres’ call for alignment of carbon reduction targets with COVID-19 recovery packages. But we must move from words to action. The urgency of our current situation demands decisive action and substantive finance from governments to deliver a fair transition away from fossil fuels towards clean development and a safe and healthy future for all.” 

On 26 May 2020, the World Health Organization announced its six-point plan for a healthy recovery from COVID-19 [2]. This included safeguarding nature, ensuring access to clean water and a quick transition to renewable energy and sustainable food systems, building healthy cities and stopping subsidies for polluting fossil fuels.

Also in May, the GCHA, working with organizations representing over 40 million doctors, nurses and other health professionals from 90 countries, including many working on the frontlines of the Covid-19 pandemic, wrote to G20 leaders, urging them to put public health at the centre of their economic recovery packages, to help avoid future crises and make the world more resilient to them [3].

“National governments must provide clear direction and resources so that municipalities, businesses and communities work together to keep climate change to within 1.5C. We’ve seen that countries that have done well in controlling the novel coronavirus have taken a coordinated approach, guided by the best available science. We’ve got to take the hard-won lessons from this devastating pandemic, and tackle climate change with the same resolve, urgency, and coordination”, said Miller. 

“Stabilising the climate and tackling the pandemic are both part of the same larger issue -- we need to live within planetary boundaries, and care for the environment on which our lives depend. All countries must enact decisive plans to achieve global net zero carbon emissions by 2050. If we do, we’ll reduce the impact of climate change, deliver cleaner air and other benefits to health , while also strengthening our communities and protecting our children’s futures”, added Miller [4].

Who We Are
The Global Climate and Health Alliance is an alliance of health NGOs and health professional organizations from around the world.

[1] Un Climate Action, High-Level Climate Change RoundTable, 24 September 2020

Secretary-General's remarks to High-level Roundtable on Climate Ambition [as delivered]

[2] WHO manifesto for a healthy recovery from COVID-19

[3] Over 40 million health professionals urge G20 leaders to put public health at the core of Covid-19 recovery

[4] Sweden has pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045.

Climate change: China aims for 'carbon neutrality by 2060'

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