Climate change health threat: WHO warns most countries not doing enough
3 December 2019, 02:47 | Updated: 3 December 2019, 11:32
Climate change poses a growing threat to human health but most countries are not doing enough to act on it, the World Health Organisation has warned.
In a survey of over 100 countries, the UN health agency found that although half had developed national health and climate change strategies, only 38% had the funding to even partially deliver on those plans, and fewer than 10% of those surveyed had the full funding necessary.
The report comes as world leaders, negotiators and activists gather in Madrid for the UN's annual climate change conference.
WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: "Climate change is not only racking up a bill for future generations to pay, it's a price that people are paying for now with their health.
"It is a moral imperative that countries have the resources they need to act against climate change and safeguard health now and in the future."
The report said: "The most common climate sensitive health risks were identified by countries as heat stress, injury or death from extreme weather events, food, water and vector-borne diseases (such as cholera, dengue or malaria).
"However, about 60% of these countries report that the assessment findings have had little or no influence on the allocation of human and financial resources to meet their adaptation priorities for protecting health."
Report authors highlighted the research that has already been done on the potential health benefits of reducing emissions, emphasising that meeting the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement would reduce air pollution to such an extent that it could save approximately one million lives per year.
They warned that far too few of the countries surveyed even mentioned health as it relates to emissions reductions as part of their commitments to the Paris Agreement.
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The director of the WHO's department of environment, climate change and health, Dr Maria Neirasaid. said: "For the Paris Agreement to be effective to protect people's health, all levels of government need to prioritise building health system resilience to climate change, and a growing number of national governments are clearly headed in that direction."
Representatives from nearly 200 countries have gathered in Madrid to discuss ramping up their commitments in the next year.
As part of that they have to finalise the last remaining pieces of the Paris Agreement, including deciding on rules for global carbon markets, and agreeing how to compensate poorer countries that have suffered loss and damage from climate change.
(c) Sky News 2019: Climate change health threat: WHO warns most countries not doing enough