Tuesday Oct 12, 2021
The World Health Organisation and about three-quarters of global health care workers have urged the governments to step up climate action at the COP26 global climate conference, saying it could save millions of lives a year.
The UN health agency's report on climate change and health call for transformational action in every sector including energy, transport, and finance, saying the public health benefits of ambitious climate actions far outweigh the costs.
The WHO has previously said some 13.7 million deaths a year, or around 24.3% of the global total, were due to environmental risks such as air pollution and chemical exposure.
It is not clear exactly how many of those are directly linked to climate change, although the WHO's Maria Neira said about 80% of the deaths from air pollution could be prevented through compliance with its guidelines.
Climate change is also stoking some infectious diseases such as dengue fever and malaria, causing deaths in some of the world's poorest regions, said WHO climate change and health Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum.
"Our health is not negotiable: we are going into climate negotiations, we are negotiating many things but the life of a single child whether it is lost to air pollution or climate change is not something that should be on the table," he said.
The report's release coincides with a letter backed by more than 400 health bodies representing more than 45 million nurses, doctors, and medical professionals also calling for action.
Last week, the United Nations Human Rights Council recognised access to a clean and healthy environment as a fundamental right, adding its weight to the fight against climate change.