Meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement could save about a million lives a year worldwide by 2050
Meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement could save about a million lives a year worldwide by 2050 through reductions in air pollution alone. The latest estimates from leading experts also indicate that the value of health gains from climate action would be approximately double the cost of mitigation policies at global level, and the benefit-to-cost ratio is even higher in countries such as China and India.
A WHO report launched at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP24) highlights why health considerations are critical to the advancement of climate action and outlines key recommendations for policy makers.
Exposure to air pollution causes 7 million deaths worldwide every year and costs an estimated US$ 5.11 trillion in welfare losses globally. In the 15 countries that emit the most greenhouse gas emissions, the health impacts of air pollution are estimated to cost more than 4% of their GDP. Actions to meet the Paris goals would cost around 1% of global GDP.
The same human activities that are destabilizing the Earth’s climate also contribute directly to poor health. The main driver of climate change is fossil fuel combustion which is also a major contributor to air pollution.
WHO’s COP-24 Special Report: health and climate change provides recommendations for governments on how to maximize the health benefits of tackling climate change and avoid the worst health impacts of this global challenge.
Some of these recommendations are:
-Identifying and promoting actions that both cut carbon emissions and reduce air pollution, and by including specific commitments to cut emissions of Short Climate Pollutants in their National Determined Contributions.
-Ensuring that the commitments to assess and safeguard health in the UNFCCC and Paris Agreement are reflected in the operational mechanisms at national and global levels.
-Removing barriers to investment in health adaptation to climate change, with a focus on climate resilient health systems, and climate smart healthcare facilities.
-Engagement with the health community, civil society and health professionals, to help them to mobilize collectively to promote climate action and health co-benefits.
-Promoting the role of cities and sub-national governments in climate action benefiting health, within the UNFCCC framework.
-Formal monitoring and reporting of the health progress resulting from climate actions to the global climate and health governance processes, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
-Inclusion of the health implications of mitigation and adaptation measures in economic and fiscal policy.
You can download the report here