The World Health Organization (WHO) said this Monday that climate change is “the greatest threat to the health of humanity”, calling on governments to come out of the pandemic in a “healthy and green” way.
To this end, WHO lists ten priorities in a report released today, immediately asking the signatory countries of the Paris Agreement to place “health and social justice at the center of conversations” at the 26th United Nations climate conference (COP26) , which takes place in early November in Glasgow, Scotland.
The director of the WHO Department for the Environment, Climate Change and Health, Maria Neira, stressed in a press conference that reducing air pollution to the levels recommended by the organization would prevent “80 percent” of the nearly seven million deaths caused every year. years by the effects of air pollution.
“Health will be the motivation to accelerate and to do more to combat climate change, which affects the pillars of health: food, water and air quality,” he said.
“Maybe this is the time for a COP for Health. That’s what we want. Whatever the financial investment needed, it will compensate for the benefits it will bring. There are no excuses”, said Maria Neira.
The WHO quoted figures from the International Monetary Fund according to which the fuel industry receives 5.9 billion dollars in funding annually, the equivalent of 11 dollars per minute and half of that amount is what the health problems they cause cost the world. every year.
Protecting human health from the consequences of climate change, the WHO maintains, requires changes in sectors such as energy, food and finance.
The organisation’s director general, Tedros Ghebreyesus, argued that “the same unsustainable choices that are killing the planet are also killing people.”
WHO appeals are underwritten by 300 organizations representing at least 45 million physicians and other health professionals, who make up more than two-thirds of all workers in the sector worldwide.
“Wherever we are, in our hospitals, clinics and communities around the world, we are already having to respond to the damage to health caused by climate change,” says the open letter from health professionals also released today.
“The combustion of fossil fuels is killing us”, reads the report released today by the WHO in anticipation of the 26th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in which the impact of air pollution, estimated to cause “13 deaths per minute” worldwide, is felt “disproportionately by the most vulnerable”.
Globally, the WHO estimates that “more than 90% of human beings breathe unhealthy levels of air pollution”.
Another shift in the food sector towards more “nutritious and plant-based” diets could reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere and “avoid up to 5.1 million food-related deaths by 2050 “.
The organization argues that the health systems themselves and the facilities in which they operate need to be sustainable as well.
In cities, he recommends creating more conditions for “walking, cycling and using public transport”.
Other pillars of WHO’s appeals are the conservation and repair of natural environments and ecosystems and the orientation of investments in post-pandemic recovery towards activities that are not harmful to the environment.
“This COP has to be special in its ambition, in the solutions, in the actions and interventions proposed, and in the speed with which they are applied”, reinforced Maria Neira.