The recently launched WHO COP26 Special Report on Climate Change and Health, following the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, clearly explains the global health community’s directives for climate action based on an expanding body of research that defines the inseparable links between climate and health.
WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, mentioned that the COVID-19 pandemic has deciphered the intimate and delicate links between our environment, humans, and animals.
WHO requests all countries to commit to a determined action at COP26 to reduce global warming to 1.5°C. WHO’s new report emphasizes 10 priorities for securing the health of people and our planet, he added.
The WHO report is launched when an open letter, signed by around two-thirds of the health workforce worldwide comprising of 300 organizations which represent over 45 million doctors and health professionals across the world, is requesting national leaders and COP26 country representatives to accelerate climate action.
The report and letter come as extreme weather events and other climate impacts are causing havoc in people’s lives and health. Frequent extreme weather events like heatwaves and storms kill thousands and disrupt the lives of millions while disturbing healthcare systems and facilities when they are needed the most.
Further, changes in weather and climate are threatening food security and increasing water-, food-, and vector-borne diseases, while climate impacts are also adversely affecting mental health.
The WHO report states that the burning of fossil fuels is destroying us, and climate change is the greatest health threat that we are facing. Although no one is safe from the impacts of climate change, and the most vulnerable and disadvantaged are the ones that are greatly affected.
The report concludes that safeguarding people’s health requires innovative measures in every sector, including energy, nature, food systems, transport, and finance. And it clearly outlines that the public health benefits from implementing determined climate actions far exceed the costs.
Details on the recommendation from the COP26 report and demands of the open letter are both available on the WHO website.