WHO Calls for Public Health Agenda at Paris Climate Talks
The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for a strong agreement to curb global emissions at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris this week.
Climate change already is blamed for tens of thousands of deaths each year from shifting patterns of disease, extreme weather events, and worsening air and water quality and sanitation. WHO warns that by 2030, climate change will cause — at a minimum — an additional 250,000 deaths a year around the world.
Health has been central to global climate talks since nations first got together in 1992 to discuss the problem. In Paris this year, negotiators aim to keep emissions from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Holding temperatures at those levels is what scientists say it will take to avoid the most dramatic impacts of climate change, such as more intense storms, floods, droughts and wildfires.
World Health Organization senior scientist Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum says a climate accord could help avert millions of deaths.
“The reason that we are so concerned about the effects of climate change on health [is] that many of the largest disease problems that we face are highly sensitive to climate conditions,” he said. “These include diseases such as malaria, such as undernutrition, and such as waterborne diseases, diarrhea and other waterborne diseases.”