‘The climate emergency is destabilising the conditions that support good health, increasing poor physical and mental health, all while disrupting access to health care.’
Academics from Imperial College London, UK, are calling for COP28, which will be held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 30 November to 12 December, to ensure that health becomes ‘a core currency of future negotiations.’
In a commentary piece entitled Why COP28 must be a health COP, published in The BMJ, the authors highlight that economic growth remains the key goal of most countries. ‘Public health has been notably historically absent from COP discussions, even with the WHO’s involvement in its deliberations being relatively recent. Encouragingly COP27 saw human health – including, critically, mental health – beginning to receive greater attention,’ they write.
The authors contend that policies emerging from COPs should focus on measures to safeguard the health and wellbeing of people around the world. ‘As it stands, leaders are failing to meet this and as a result the cost to lives and livelihoods continues to grow because of climate breakdown,’ the authors said.
"#COP28 must be a health COP"@RaoMala & @Emma_L_Lawrance make the case for health leaders to attend future COPs and ensure that health becomes a core currency of future negotiations.https://t.co/MnKN0ILDL4— Imperial Medicine (@ImperialMed) March 15, 2023
The authors welcomed the launch of the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity, which was established by the US' Biden Administration in 2021. Its remit is to ‘protect the health of people throughout the US in the face of climate change.’ The authors said: ‘[This] is an encouraging sign that political leadership is beginning to recognise the inextricable link between health and wellbeing, and climate change.’
Dr Emma Lawrance, Lead Policy Fellow for Mental Health in the Institute of Global Health Innovation, and one of the two co-authors said: ‘The climate emergency is destabilising the conditions that support good health, increasing poor physical and mental health, all while disrupting access to health care.’
Co-author Professor Mala Rao, Director of the Ethnicity and Health Unit in the School of Public Health, added: ‘Health professionals are highly trusted and influential members of society, and this paper urges them to take lead roles in climate advocacy and action, especially because what is good for the climate is also good for public health.’