WHO Emphasizes the Need of Climate Action for Human Health at COP26

This week, the World Health Organization/Europe sponsored a side event during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) to promote health and climate-friendly policies. Panelists from a variety of groups emphasized the need for a shift in the policy environment as well as the instruments needed to implement health-focused activities like lowering air pollution and encouraging active mobility. 

COP26 has been in Glasgow, United Kingdom, for the past two weeks, working toward a global agreement on increased climate ambition, building resilience, and urgently reducing greenhouse gas emissions in order to reach “net zero” and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. WHO/Europe was at COP26 to bolster the health case for urgent action on climate change and to advocate for a healthy, green, and just recovery from COVID-19 – both inside and beyond the health sector. 

This year, the European Region has experienced a series of extreme weather events that are directly linked to climate change, many of which have direct and indirect health consequences. 

As a result of climate change, climate-related health emergencies in the European Region are predicted to become increasingly common and severe. The consequences are much more destructive and disastrous on a global scale, jeopardizing food and water security while deepening disparities and poverty’s repercussions. 

In order to combat the effects of climate change, WHO/Europe continues to collaborate closely with government and civil society partners. WHO/Europe continues to provide evidence on the health implications of climate change, as well as guidance and tools on health adaptation planning and mitigation co-benefits, through the European Centre for Environment and Health in Bonn, Germany. 

Also, the Pan-European Commission on Health and Sustainable Development focused on the interdependence of human, animal, and environmental health, dubbed “One Health” and urged for a coordinated response to health concerns posed by the environment, especially those posed by climate change. 

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