WHO hosts COP28 event on ‘unbearable heat and unbreathable air’

The World Health Organisation’s sidebar took place on the opening day of the planet’s most significant climate summit.

grayscale photo of cityscape

Streamed live on the UN DESA YouTube page, the event made a strong case for air pollution and extreme summer temperatures being the two most direct outcomes of climate change, and two of the biggest threats to come from the crisis. As such, it was argued, there is an urgent need for greater inclusion of health in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change agenda.

In particular, the links between heat, poor air quality, and deaths from noncommunicable diseases were explored. Currently, around 74% of all worldwide mortalities are a result of conditions such as cardiovascular and respiratory disease, cancer, diabetes, and mental health – all of which are known to be exacerbated by the immediate fallout of climate change.

While the developing world is rightly considered to be bearing the ecological brunt of the environmental emergency – with some parts of the globe on the cusp of becoming uninhabitable due to dwindling resources – it is wealthier nations that feel the greatest impact from NDCs.

The WHO event addressed the correlations between air pollution, climate change and NDCs, reiterating the words of UN Secretary-General António Guterres: ‘The era of global warming has ended. The era of global boiling has arrived. The air is unbreathable and the heat is unbearable. And the level of fossil fuel profits and climate inaction is unacceptable.’

While much of the panel discussion laid out the clear and present danger of these interlinked threats to health and habitat, ‘win-win’ solutions were also tabled. These included phasing out fossil fuels, the use of solid fuels for cooking and open-air burning. Approaches to more effective incorporation of health into the UNFCCC were also part of the conversation.

More on COP28: 

Prototypes for Humanity: Ideas to save the world at COP28 – AirQualityNews

Good COP, Bad COP? We’re about to find out… – AirQualityNews

Image: Yaroslav Boshnakov


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