Durban — International health leaders in Durban for the global climate talks have called on negotiators to push for the most ambitious commitments possible, warning that the direction of current negotiations risks the lives of billions of people around the globe.
Over 200 leaders from more than 30 countries have issued a Declaration and Call to Action following a Global Climate and Health Summit.
“No-one is immune from the health impacts of climate change; people in developed and developing nations are all at risk,” said Dr Hugh Montgomery from Climate and Health Council, UK.
“Without bold action by governments, climate change will magnify existing health crises,” said Dr Rajendra Niadoo, from Nelson R. Mandela Medical School in Durban.
Doctors, nurses, public health experts, health and medical scientists, medical students, and health officials from major international health organizations are meeting in Durban to try and influence negotiations by raising awareness about the health risks of climate change and the health benefits of climate action.
“Strong climate policy is an investment in people’s health,” said Fiona Armstrong of the Climate and Health Alliance, Australia.
The delegates have called for a fair, ambitious and binding global treaty, and urged all countries to commit to immediate strong climate action to protect and promote health.
“If governments agree to delay for another decade, history will judge Durban as a moment of global political malpractice,” said Josh Karliner, Health Care Without Harm.
“I’m a 21 year old medical student, and these negotiations have been carrying on my entire life. If we don’t reach a legally binding agreement on climate change soon, the protection and promotion of public health will be seriously undermined, world-wide.” said Nick Watts of the International Medical Students Association.
Delegates agree the urgent replacement of fossil fuel-based energy with clean renewable energy is vital, saying fossil fuels cause “immense harm” to both climate and health, and urge negotiators to commit to equitable contributions to a green climate fund to assist adaptation and mitigation strategies to support human health.
They have themselves committed to action to cut emissions in the health sector, and have urged health professionals worldwide to engage in advocacy for climate action, to help prevent unprecedented loss of life and human suffering.