The World Health Organisation has stated that millions of lives could be saved by reining in global warming. The organization urgedCOP26 summit to take serious climate action to improve public health worldwide.
In an 82-page COP26 special report, The WHO reported that burning of fossil fuel damages human health and that climatic change is the single biggest health threat facing humanity.
The report, titled “The Health Argument for Climate Action”, the WHO set out 10 recommendations on how to maximise the health benefits of tackling climate change – and avoid the worst health impacts of the climate crisis.
The report stated that national climate commitments must be set by countries to foster a healthy recovery from the COVID-19 crisis
WHO chief, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on the intimate and delicate links between humans, animals and our environment and the same unsustainable choices that are killing our planet are killing people.
WHO also called on all countries to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by committing to decisive action at COP26 — not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s in our own interest.
The UN Climate Change Conference, COP26,is being held in Glasgow from October 31 to November 12.
The report said that by achieving the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement — which included preferably limiting the rise in mean global temperature to 1.5 C — would save millions of lives every year due to improvements in air quality, diet, and physical activity.
Air pollution, being primarily the result of burning fossil fuels, caused 13 deaths per minute worldwide – and the public health benefits of ambitious climate action would far outweigh the costs.
Maria Neira, the WHO’s environment, climate change and health director said, “Bringing down air pollution to WHO guideline levels, for example, would reduce the total number of global deaths from air pollution by 80 percent. Switching to more plant-based diets could reduce global emissions significantly, ensure more resilient food systems, and avoid up to 5.1 million diet-related deaths a year by 2050.”
The WHO’s 10 recommendations urge COP negotiators to place health at the heart of the summit and commit to a green recovery from Covid-19.
The WHO wants climate interventions with the largest health gains prioritised, with health resilience to climate risks included in planning.