Wednesday, August 27, 2014

WHO urges action on climate change to protect health

Megan Darby in Responding to Climate Change: Leading health experts are urging stronger action on climate change, as the first ever global conference to link the two fields kicks off in Geneva. Bringing together meteorologists, diplomats and medics – not to mention the Prince of Wales – the gathering will highlight health threats from climate change, and joint solutions.

The World Health Organization (WHO), hosting the three-day conference, said green energy and transport policies could save millions of lives each year, by cutting air pollution. It also called for initiatives to help communities prepare for heat, extreme weather, infectious diseases and food insecurity caused by climate change.

“The evidence is overwhelming: climate change endangers human health,” said Dr Margaret Chan, WHO director general. “Solutions exist and we need to act decisively to change this trajectory.”

The rallying cry builds momentum for action ahead of a climate summit to be hosted by UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon next month. At that summit, world leaders will be invited to make commitments to climate action. The idea is to engage heads of state with the issue before a global treaty is signed in Paris, December 2015.

Christiana Figueres, the UN’s climate chief, encouraged delegates to push for a strong agreement. This will “chart a course towards a world with clean air and water, abundant natural resources and happy, health populations,” she said. “Seen in this light, the climate agreement is actually a public health agreement.”...

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