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Climate action at COP26 could save millions of lives, WHO says

COP26

At the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), the World Health Organization and around three-quarters of global health care workers have encouraged governments to increase climate action, claiming that it might save millions of lives each year. 

The United Nations’ World Health Organization’s report on climate change and health calls for transformational action in every sector, including energy, transportation, and finance, claiming that the public health benefits of aggressive climate action outweigh the costs. 

According to the WHO, environmental risks such as air pollution and chemical exposure cause roughly 13.7 million fatalities per year, or about 24.3 percent of all deaths worldwide. 

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It’s unclear how many of those are directly linked to climate change, but according to Maria Neira of the WHO, around 80% of deaths from air pollution might be avoided if the WHO’s standards were followed. 

COP26: Climate crisis requires urgent action

According to WHO climate change and health Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, climate change is also fuelling several infectious diseases such as dengue fever and malaria, which are causing casualties in some of the world’s poorest regions. 

“Our health is not negotiable: we’re heading into climate negotiations, we’re negotiating a lot of things, but the life of a single child, whether it’s lost to air pollution or climate change, should not be on the table,” he said. 

The report’s release comes with a letter calling for action signed by more than 400 health organizations representing more than 45 million nurses, doctors, and medical professionals. 

The United Nations Human Rights Council last week declared access to a clean and healthy environment to be a fundamental right, bolstering the fight against climate change. 

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