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IPCC Report: National Leaders Must Act On Climate Crisis To Ensure Human Health And Safety

Global, 12 August 2021:- Responding to this week’s stark sixth assessment report by Working Group I of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) [1], which finds that without major cuts to greenhouse gas emissions throughout the current decade the world will see catastrophic levels of global warming, Global Climate and Health Alliance Executive Director Jeni Miller said: 

“The IPCC Climate Report not only makes clear the scale of the health emergency created by climate warming - the greatest health crisis humanity has ever faced - it tells us that every government, every business and every institution must take immediate action to rapidly and deeply cut greenhouse gas emissions, achieve major reductions throughout this decade, and net zero emissions by 2050 if we are to ensure human health and safety on this planet”. 

“Crucially, the Climate Report states that ‘it is virtually certain that global surface temperature rise and associated changes can be limited through rapid and substantial reductions in global GHG emissions.’ [emphasis added]. In other words, we still have a choice. If we are to avoid the worst possible outcomes for humanity, world leaders must converge on this November’s COP26 climate summit with clear plans for rapid decarbonisation”, said Miller. 

In July 2021, the Global Climate and Health Alliance (GCHA) released its Healthy NDCs Scorecard, which demonstrates the gaps in countries’ intentions to address health within climate policy, and in the efficacy of those policies with regard to reducing emissions [2]. With more countries releasing their NDCs ahead of COP26, GCHA is set to release a second round of scorecards in September.

“Leading health organizations have already declared the climate crisis a health emergency and have repeatedly highlighted what climate breakdown means for every person on the planet : the injury, illness, displacement and death from extreme weather events and other impacts we are now increasingly seeing, such as heatwaves, fires, storms, disease spread, crop failures and more”, she continued [3].

“To confront this growing crisis, national leaders must make health central to climate policy, and ensure those climate policies are ambitious enough to reduce and ultimately eliminate greenhouse gas emissions, in order to protect human health.”

“When national leaders arrive at the COP26 climate negotiations in Glasgow this November they must come armed with commitments that will drive down climate emissions throughout this decade, limit overall warming to 1.5C, and build health into every aspect of those plans.”

“Effective action by governments and businesses could provide us with cleaner air and water, healthier and more secure food supplies, a resilient health sector, and greener transportation and community designs, benefiting people here and now. We can still make a world in which we, our children, and their children not only survive but actually thrive [4]. But if we turn away from this challenge, if government leaders pursue only what is “feasible” not what is necessary, we’ll do irreversible damage and could make the earth significantly uninhabitable”.

“Nothing less than all-out commitment to cut emissions will be enough to protect the lives and health of humanity on this planet”, concluded Miller. “We have solutions. The changes we must make may not be easy, but they are necessary, and they must happen now.”

[1] AR6 Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis. The Working Group I contribution to the Sixth Assessment - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

Press conference:

World Resources Institute: 5 Big Findings from the IPCC’s 2021 Climate Report

Carbon Brief: In-depth Q&A: The IPCC’s sixth assessment report on climate science

Healthy NDCs: Scorecard Exposes Health Gaps in National Climate Policies Ahead of COP26

Climate Change is a Health Emergency

A Declaration on Climate Change and Health (2019)

Leading medical group declares public health emergency and calls for national strategy to tackle climate change 

World Medical Organisation Resolution on Climate Emergency

On May 26, 2020, over 350 organisations representing over 40 million health professionals and over 4,500 individual health professionals from 90 different countries*, wrote to the G20 leaders calling for a #HealthyRecovery

Global Climate and Health Forum: The Call to Action on Climate and Health outlines a set of ten priority policy actions for health leadership to advance ambitious progress towards global climate and health goals

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