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World Health Organization Statement of Climate Change Impact on Public Health

Understanding the Climate Crisis and its effect on Public Health

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The evidence is clear.  While many government leaders refuse to take action, public action can be mobilized when they know exactly what they can do.

Severity of the impact of climate change on health is increasingly clear. Climate change is the greatest challenge of the 21st century, threatening all aspects of the society in which we live, and the continuing delay in addressing the scale of the challenge increases the risks to human lives and health.

The drivers of climate change – principally fossil fuel combustion – pose a heavy burden of disease, including a major contribution to the 7 million deaths
from outdoor and indoor air pollution annually. The air pollutants which are causing ill-health, and the greenhouse gases (GHGs) that are causing climate
change, are emitted from many of the same sectors, including energy, housing, transport and agriculture.

Short-lived climate pollutants (including black carbon, methane and ozone) have important impacts on both climate and health.

If the mitigation commitments in the Paris Agreement are met, millions of lives could be saved through reduced air pollution, by the middle of the century. More stringent mitigation policies would result i greater health benefits. There are important additional opportunities for synergy between health and climate change mitigation in energy, households, food systems, transport and other sectors, particularly in stemming the burden of noncommunicable
diseases (NCDs).

Economic valuation of health decisively favours more aggressive climate mitigation. The most recent evidence indicates that the health gains from energy scenarios to meet the Paris climate goals would more than meet the financial cost of mitigation at global level and would exceed that in countries such as China and India by several times.


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Climate change already has negative health effects and undermines the “right to health” cited in the Paris Agreement. Climate change undermines the social
and environmental determinants of health, including people’s access to clean air, safe drinking-water, sufficient food and secure shelter. It is affecting
health particularly in the poorest, most vulnerable communities such as small-island developing States (SIDS) and least developed countries, thus widening
health inequities.

Please click here  for the full W.H.O. Report from COP 24 to see the recommendations.

 


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