The Cop26 is fast approaching. On this occasion, WHO publishes ten recommendations for governments. The World Health Organization insists on the link between climate and health. The objective: “optimize the health benefits of combating climate change, and avoid the worst effects of the climate crisis on health“.
Of course, climate change causes climatic catastrophes… but not only. Health disasters are also linked to our environment. This is the case with the coronavirus, as recalled by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the WHO. “The Covid-19 pandemic has shed light on the intimate and delicate links between humans, animals and our environment“.
Air pollution causes 13 deaths per minute worldwide
Another example: air pollution. “Air pollution, which results mainly from the combustion of fossil fuels and which is also the cause of climate change, causes 13 deaths per minute worldwide“, says the report.
“The same unsustainable choices that are killing our planet are killing people“, adds the director general of the WHO.
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Climate and health are therefore closely linked. And that is why the WHO is calling governments to action. “Achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement would save millions of lives each year through improvements in air quality, diet and physical activity, among other benefits“, adds the report.
Pollution or even food
“Reducing air pollution to levels recommended by the WHO, for example, would reduce the total number of deaths worldwide from this type of pollution by 80%. While significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change “, explains Dr. Maria Neira, Director of the Environment, Climate Change and Health Department of the WHO.
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“A shift to more nutritious, plant-based diets, in line with WHO recommendations, could significantly reduce global emissions. But also ensure more resilient food systems and prevent up to 5.1 million food-related deaths per year by 2050. “
The 10 WHO recommendations
- Commit to a healthy recovery. Commit to a healthy, green recovery just after Covid-19.
- Our health is not negotiable. Health and social justice must be placed at the heart of the UN climate negotiations.
- Harnessing the health benefits of climate action. Prioritize climate interventions that have the greatest health, social and economic benefits.
- Strengthen health resilience to climate risks. Build climate-resilient and environmentally sustainable health systems and facilities, and support health adaptation and resilience across sectors.
- Create energy systems that protect and improve climate and health. Guide a just and inclusive transition to renewable energies to save lives from air pollution, especially from coal combustion. End energy poverty in households and health care facilities.
- Rethinking urban environments, transport and mobility. Promote sustainable and healthy urban design and transport systems, with better land use, access to green and blue public spaces, and priority to walking, cycling and public transport.
- Protect and restore nature, the foundation of our health. Protect and restore natural systems, which are the foundation for healthy lives, food systems and sustainable livelihoods.
- Promote healthy, sustainable and resilient food systems. Promote sustainable and resilient food production as well as more affordable and nutritious diets that deliver climate and health outcomes.
- Finance a healthier, fairer and greener future to save lives. Ensure the transition to a welfare economy.
- Listening to the health community and prescribing urgent climate action. Mobilize and support the health community on climate action.
Note that in parallel with these recommendations, the WHO publishes an open letter signed by “more than two-thirds of the world’s health workforce – 300 organizations representing at least 45 million physicians and health professionals worldwide – calling on national leaders and country delegations to COP26 to step up climate action.“