Governments must take urgent action to quickly reduce global emissions

Health is already being damaged by the increase in global temperature. The health risks of increases above 1.5 ° C are well established. Heat-related mortality in the elderly has increased by more than 50% over the past 20 years. Recently, health journals around the world simultaneously published an editorial calling on world leaders to take urgent action to limit climate change, restore biodiversity and protect health.

Greater dehydration and loss of renal function have been associated with increased cardiovascular and pulmonary morbidity and mortality. Global warming is also contributing to the decline in the global yield potential of major crops, which has fallen from 1.8% to 5.6% since 1981; this, together with the effects of extreme weather conditions and soil depletion, hamper efforts to reduce undernutrition. Many countries aim to protect at least 30% of the world’s land and oceans by 2030.

The global response must prioritize equity. To be fair to the global effort, reduction commitments must take into account each country’s historical emissions, current emissions, and response capacity.

To achieve these goals, governments must step in to support the overhaul of transportation systems, cities, food production and distribution, markets for financial investments, health systems and more.

Huge investments will be required, beyond what is envisioned or delivered anywhere in the world. But such investments will produce huge positive results for health and the economy. These include high-quality jobs, reduced air pollution, increased physical activity, and improved housing and nutrition.

Better air quality alone would lead to health benefits that would easily outweigh the global costs of emission reductions. These measures will also improve the social and economic determinants of health. Cooperation relies on rich countries doing more.

Professor Abdullah H. Baqui, editor of the Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition, said: “No temperature rise is safe. The environmental crisis is already hurting health around the world, disproportionately affecting the countries and communities that have contributed the least to the problem and are least able to mitigate the damage. Rich countries must do more to support those on the front lines. “

High-income countries must meet and go beyond their one-time commitment to provide US $ 100 billion per year, making up any shortfall in 2020 and increasing contributions through 2025 and beyond. Funding should be split equally between mitigation and adaptation, including improving health resilience. systems.

Funding should be in the form of grants rather than loans, building local capacities and genuinely empowering communities, and should be accompanied by the forgiveness of large debts, which limit the action of so many low-income countries. .

Additional funding must be mobilized to compensate for the inevitable loss and damage caused by the consequences of the environmental crisis.

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