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Millions of Lives could be saved by tackling Climate Change: WHO

A recent report released by the World Health Organization (WHO) tells about the public health benefits that could come with tackling the climate change issue.

Abha Toppo

A recent report released by the World Health Organization (WHO) tells about the public health benefits that could come with tackling the climate change issue.

The report says if we meet the commitments of the 2015 Paris climate agreement then it can save millions of lives as well as hundreds of billions of dollars till the middle of the century.  It elaborated that by meeting the objectives presented in the Paris agreement would save more than 1 million lives every year from air pollution by 2050. Drivers of climate change, mainly fossil fuel burning leads to about 7 million deaths all over the world from outdoor and indoor air pollution every year.

Representatives from all countries took pledge at the Paris Agreement to take action against climate change, particularly by reducing their nations' carbon production and stopping global warming below 2 degree Celsius over pre-industrial levels by end of the century. On the other hand, the US had pledged to withdraw from the landmark agreement in 2017.

The world leaders along with officials will be attending two-week meeting at the 24th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) to set guidelines that will convert the Paris climate agreement into a practical reality. The leaders intend to establish rules, solve financing and build ways to verify that countries are meeting their commitments.

The recent WHO report is actually based on contributions from over 80 health and academic professionals, civil society representatives and international agencies who have earlier worked on climate change and public health. The authors said, "The most direct connection between climate change and poor health is - air pollution”. 

The report mentioned that "Burning fossil fuels for transport, power and industry is the main reason of carbon emissions that is causing climate change and a big contributor to health-damaging air pollution, which kills over 7 million people every year, owing to exposure inside and outside their houses”.

The report provides suggestions for the governments on how to deal with the climate change. Some of the recommendations are –

  • To identify and promote actions to reduce both carbon emissions and air pollution,

  • Mobilize mayors and other sub-national leaders to endorse climate goals,

  • Involve health community in addressing climate change

  • To track progress in health from such climate change mitigation systematically.

The report also mentioned an analysis showing that the value of health gains from reaching the targets of Paris climate agreement would be twice the cost of the policies.

Health hazards indicated in the report include - mental illness, injuries, allergies, under-nutrition, respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, infections, waterborne diseases and heatstroke.

Dr. Mona Sarfaty, executive director of the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health said, "Addressing climate change is an area of opportunity that will improve our health, save money and will also stimulate economic development, because those who are healthier will be more productive”.  She said that as mentioned in the report, “people, at the local level can make important changes that will help empower communities and also make significant changes at those local levels that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve health”.

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