Monday, July 4, 2022

Doctors ‘already seeing impact of climate change on people’s health’

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Millions of people could die prematurely unless more is done to cut fossil fuel emissions
Millions of people could die prematurely unless more is done to cut fossil fuel emissions (Picture: Getty)

Doctors have warned they are already having to deal with the repercussions of climate change, adding ‘the burning of fossil fuels is killing us.’

A new report from the World Health organisation has claimed the changing environment is ‘the single biggest health threat facing humanity’.

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The crisis could undo 50 years of progress in health and reducing poverty — with extreme weather, food disruption and disease on the rise — the WHO said in the run-up to the UN Cop26 conference in Glasgow.

Climate change is leading to death and illness from increasingly extreme weather such as heatwaves and floods, disruptions to food systems, increases in disease spread and mental health issues.

The report urged action to meet Paris Agreement targets, end fossil fuel subsidies and tackle inequality.

And a letter published alongside it — from 300 organisations representing some 45million health professionals — called for Cop26 representatives and world leaders ‘to avert the impending health catastrophe by limiting global warming to 1.5C, and to make human health and equity central to climate change mitigation actions’.

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It said urgent action is necessary because health professionals are already responding to harms caused by climate change.

WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: ‘The same unsustainable choices that are killing our planet are killing people.’

TOPSHOT - A local resident gestures as he holds n empty water hose during an attempt to extinguish forest fires approaching the village of Pefki on Evia (Euboea) island, Greece's second largest island, on August 8, 2021. - Hundreds of Greek firefighters fought desperately on August 8 to control wildfires on the island of Evia that have charred vast areas of pine forest, destroyed homes and forced tourists and locals to flee. Greece and Turkey have been battling devastating fires for nearly two weeks as the region suffered its worst heatwave in decades, which experts have linked to climate change. (Photo by ANGELOS TZORTZINIS / AFP) (Photo by ANGELOS TZORTZINIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Wildfires in Greece this summer have been blamed on climate change (Picture: Getty)

The organisation’s Dr Maria Neira added: ‘It has never been clearer that the climate crisis is one of the most urgent health emergencies we face.’

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It comes as new research revealed the most popular polices people would like to see adopted as part of efforts to combat climate change.

WWF and think tank Demos polled 20,000 people to find their preferred options for cutting greenhouse gases.

A car sits in a flooded parking spot after a night of high winds and rain from the remnants of Hurricane Ida on September 2, 2021 in Mamaroneck, New York. - The remnants of Hurricane Ida triggered spectacular flash flooding and a rare state of emergency in New York City overnight into Thursday, killing at least 14 people in what was called a historic weather event. (Photo by KENA BETANCUR / AFP) (Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)
Extreme weather events are killing people around the world (Picture: Getty)

Participants were asked to choose from several different options using a ‘climate calculator’ to work out how they would cut emissions 39% on 2019 levels by the end of the decade.

The most popular options were a carbon tax on polluting industry, with subsidies for them to invest in green technology, and better public transport co-ordinated by local government.

Support to help people adopt plant-based diets and reduce meat and dairy consumption also received support from 93% of those taking part.

And 91% of participants wanted to see a comprehensive UK-wide electric car and van charging network in place by 2028, the study found.

Almost as popular were some increases to flying costs, followed by some restrictions on cars in city centres and a reduction in the speed limit on motorways, more sustainable farming and conserving forests.

If adopted by the Government, the set of measures would cut emissions by 42% – higher than the current target.

MORE : Europe experienced its hottest year on record in 2020

MORE : Google will ban ads from appearing next to content denying climate change

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