Coalition Issues Call to Action on Climate and Health in Preparation for UN Climate Summit
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The Social and Political Drivers of Climate Action Coalition is drawing up commitments to improve health, reduce inequalities, promote social justice and maximize decent work opportunities, while protecting the climate.

Air pollution costs an estimated USD 5.11 trillion in welfare losses globally each year, with the health impacts of air pollution estimated to cost more than 4% of GDP in the 15 highest emitting countries.

Approximately 20% of Nationally Determined Contributions address the health implications of mitigation, but no initiative to date has brought together commitments to simultaneously and comprehensively mitigate climate change, reduce air pollution and promote health.

July 2019: Ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit in September 2019, the Social and Political Drivers of Climate Action Coalition has issued a call to action that proposes health commitments for national and local governments and health commitments on finance that would help advance global climate and health goals and the SDGs.

The Social and Political Drivers of Climate Action Coalition is one of nine coalitions that are developing transformative initiatives to be presented at the Summit. It is led by the Governments of Peru and Spain, the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Department Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and the International Labour Organization (ILO). The Coalition is drawing up commitments to improve health, reduce inequalities, promote social justice and maximize decent work opportunities, while protecting the climate.

The Coalition is proposing commitments for national and subnational governments to, inter alia: improve air quality to a safe level for citizens, and align climate change and air pollution policies by 2030; implement e-mobility and sustainable mobility policies and actions to positively impact road transport emissions; and assess the number of lives saved, health gains in children and other vulnerable groups, and the avoided financial costs to health systems resulting from policies.

Meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement would help save over one million lives a year by 2050 through reduced air pollution.

The Coalition’s proposed commitments for multilateral development banks (MDBs), climate funds, bilateral development agencies, philanthropic organizations and the private sector include scaling up investment in, among others: interventions for climate-resilient health systems; climate-informed health surveillance and response systems for heatwaves, storms and floods, and for water and vector-borne diseases; “climate-smart” healthcare facilities; and quality-controlled air pollution monitoring equipment in cities in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

Such commitments can simultaneously advance climate and health goals and the SDGs. Meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change would help save over one million lives a year by 2050 through reduced air pollution, and transitioning to cleaner and more sustainable choices for energy supply, transport and food systems would pay for itself, given the health impacts of polluting energy sources.

According to the Coalition, air pollution costs an estimated USD 5.11 trillion in welfare losses globally each year, with the health impacts of air pollution estimated to cost more than 4% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the 15 highest-emitting countries. The Coalition states that approximately 20% of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) address the health implications of mitigation. However, it notes, no initiative to date has brought together commitments to simultaneously and comprehensively mitigate climate change, reduce air pollution and promote health. The Coalition offers examples of sectoral interventions through which countries can achieve these commitments. It also describes how progress can be tracked through indicators already monitored through international initiatives, such as the Lancet Climate Countdown and the WHO/UNFCCC climate and health country profiles, which are both aligned with SDG monitoring.

The draft commitments on health funding aim to deliver and scale up Paris Agreement commitments on adaptation financing, and address the gap in financing health adaptation by mainstreaming climate change into health sector investments. It is suggested that the WHO, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the UNFCCC Secretariat, academic groups and others provide, inter alia, aggregated global tracking and reporting on financial investments in health adaptation to climate change, and technical guidance and support for tracking progress in health investments.

The UN Climate Action Summit will convene on 23 September 2019 in New York, US. Convened by the UN Secretary-General, the Summit has the aim of boosting ambition and accelerating actions to implement the Paris Agreement. [Coalition Call to Action] [Health Commitments for National and Local Government] [Health Commitments Related to Finance] [WHO Webpage on Health Commitments for the Climate Summit] [WHO Climate Change and Human Health Webpage] [WHO Climate Change and Human Health Commitments Documents Page] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Climate Action Summit Expected Outcomes Under the Nine Coalitions]


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