The editors of 17 health journals based around the world simultaneously published an editorial in 233 international journals to address the climate crisis. The report urgently calls on world leaders to limit the rise in temperatures, end the destruction of nature, restore biodiversity and protect health.
At a time when the world has focused on tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, the authors of the editorial warn that the impacts of climate change on health combined with the consequences of extreme weather events and widespread degradation of ecosystems could be much more serious. than the current pandemic.
According to Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, the risks posed by climate change could eclipse those of a single disease.
âThe COVID-19 pandemic will end, but there is no vaccine for the climate crisis. The IPCC report shows that every fraction of a degree warmer puts our health and our future at risk. Likewise, every action taken to limit emissions and warming brings us closer to a healthier and more secure future, âsaid Dr Ghebreyesus.
The warning comes just before the United Nations General Assembly meeting which is one of the last international meetings to be held before the climate conference (COP26) in Glasgow, UK, in November. Now is the time to urge the leaders of all countries to develop viable strategies to honor the goals of the Paris Agreement.
The authors of the editorial say the biggest threat to global public health going forward is the continued failure of world leaders to take adequate action to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5 Â° C. .
Although there have been recent commitments to reduce emissions and protect biodiversity, these fall short of the needs. The editorial urges governments around the world to develop credible short- and long-term plans to limit global warming and to invest in transforming societies and economies. For example, there must be a major overhaul of transport systems, cities, food production and distribution, markets for financial investments, and health systems. These changes would bring much needed jobs, cleaner air, better health for citizens, better housing and better food.
According to the authors of the editorial, the necessary global action would only be achieved if high-income countries reduced their own consumption and supported the initiatives of less developed countries. Developed countries have an exceptional commitment to provide $ 100 billion per year which, if followed, would increase climate finance for less developed countries which often bear the brunt of climate change-related disasters.
The impacts of climate change are disproportionately felt by the most vulnerable populations in less developed countries, including children, the elderly, ethnic minorities, communities stricken by poverty and those with underlying health problems. . With that in mind, the editorial suggests that money be provided to low-income countries in the form of grants, and that the debts of those countries be relieved so that climate change organizations on the ground can operate without constraints.
Global warming affects everyone on earth and the recent IPCC report shows that until the world reaches zero greenhouse gases, the planet will continue to warm. It is the responsibility of governments to seize this opportunity to propose and plan ambitious climate objectives in order to limit the rise in temperatures and reduce the impact of global warming.
âAs healthcare professionals, we must do all we can to facilitate the transition to a sustainable, fairer, resilient and healthier world,â the experts wrote. “We, as editors of health journals, call on governments and other leaders to act, marking 2021 as the year the world finally changes course.”
Professor Lukoye Atwoli, Editor-in-Chief of East African Medical Journal, and one of the co-authors of the editorial, noted that while low- and middle-income countries have historically contributed less to climate change, they bear an inordinate burden of adverse effects, including on health. “We therefore call for equitable contributions whereby the world’s richest countries do more to offset the impact of their actions on the climate, now and in the future.”
“Health professionals have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis and they are united in warning that going beyond 1.5 Â° C and allowing the continued destruction of nature will lead to the next much deadlier crisis,” said Dr Fiona Godlee, Editor-in-Chief. -Boss of The BMJ. “The richer countries must act faster and do more to support countries that are already suffering from higher temperatures. 2021 must be the year the world changes course – our health depends on it. “
Seye Abimbola, editor-in-chief of BMJ Global Health, said: âWhat we need to do to tackle pandemics, health inequalities and climate change is the same – a global solidarity and action that recognizes that, within and among nations, our destinies are inextricably linked, just as human health is inextricably linked to the health of the planet.
HE Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh and Chairman of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, stressed that each country must pursue an ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in order to keep the global temperature increase below 1 , 5 Â° C. âDeveloped countries should facilitate the green recovery of CVF-V20 countries. Dedicated support is needed to reduce the cost of capital and encourage private sector participation. Strict application of the Paris Agreement is the only way to control global emissions and therefore global warming. The time to act to save the planet is not tomorrow, but today.
The editorial has appeared in medical, nursing and public health journals around the world. These included BMJ, The Lancet, the New England Journal of Medicine, the East African Medical Journal, the Chinese Science Bulletin, the National Medical Journal of India, the Australian Medical Journal, and 50 specialist journals from the BMJ including BMJ Global Health and Thorax. Never before have so many magazines joined forces to publish the same message.
Through Alison bosman, Terre.com Editor-in-chief