‘We would like to see the UK Government seize the opportunity provided by COP26 to show global leadership and bring health to the forefront of the climate narrative.’
A report from the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Royal Society, is calling on the UK Government to ensure that initiatives to tackle climate change are also designed to deliver benefits to health.
The report: A healthy future – tackling climate change mitigation and human health together, asserts that if health is made central to the climate agenda, then actions taken to reach UK net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 will have near-term benefits for human health in the UK, as well as helping to reduce the risks to health from global climate change.
The report notes that while the impacts of climate change mitigation strategies are mainly positive, there is also the potential for negative, unintended, effects on heath. ‘Close attention should be paid to international supply chains and economic systems that will underpin the global net-zero transition – for example, reliance on batteries for renewable power means more cobalt needs to be mined, which may have health disadvantages for the communities involved,’ the authors say. The report also highlights areas where action against climate change can benefit health, these include: the phasing out of fossil fuels, food production and diet, and buildings.
The 65 page document is the culmination of work by experts from leading institutions including the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of Aberdeen, University of Ghana, and NHS England. Professor Joanna Haigh, CBE FRS, co-Chair of the report said; ‘We would like to see the UK Government seize the opportunity provided by COP26 to show global leadership and bring health to the forefront of the climate narrative.’
At the same time a report from the WHO: WHO COP26 Special Report on Climate – The Health Argument for Climate Action, is calling for countries to set ambitious national climate commitments if they are to sustain a healthy and green recovery from the pandemic. Released at the same time as a letter signed by 300 organisations representing ‘at least 45 million doctors and health professionals worldwide,’ the report and letter call for increased climate action ‘to avert the impending health catastrophe…’
The WHO report asserts: ‘Protecting human health requires transformational action in every sector, including on energy, transport, nature, food systems and finance.’ It adds ‘The Public health benefits from implementing ambitious climate actions far outweigh the costs.’