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Climate Change and Health Working Group

Climate change could be the greatest global health threat of the 21st century, according to the Lancet, a leading international medical journal[1]. The World Health Organisation predicts that climate change, if not mitigated, will lead to significant increases in illness and deaths globally. The health impacts of climate change are already being felt around the world, with Natural Resources Defense Council estimating 150,000 US deaths in the top 40 US cities by 2011[2]. The good news is that increasing evidence suggests action on climate change can deliver significant and immediate benefits to human health and, consequently, healthcare budgets.

CHE’s climate and health working group aims to provide an international space for health professionals, scientists, health-affected  and community groups as well as government agencies to connect and share information on science, resources and events through a listserv and regular CHE Partnership calls on specific topics.   

CO-BENEFITS

The term “co-benefits” relates to the indirect consequences of greenhouse gas (GHG) controls[3]. These include

  • reduced air pollution, including sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter.
  • reduced traffic congestion.
  • reduced mercury pollution in water and fish.
  • reduced emergency hospital visits due to asthma, heart attacks and other conditions exacerbated by air pollution.
  • and others.

See also this article from the British Medical Journal for more information: How the low carbon economy can improve health.

The goal is to increase knowledge about evidence-based science of climate impacts and co-benefits and to foster public and policy dialogue through:

  • exchanging information on thelatest science/published literature on the health impacts of climate change and the co-benefits  to health of climate policies such as transport, energy, agriculture and urban policies
  • exploring the connections between climate and emerging issues, such as chemicals and socioeconomic inequalities 
  • sharing educational resources for public health, medical and health professionals on climate change-induced diseases
  • highlighting relevant policy forums that encourage the integration of health evidence and resources into climate discussions such as national public health programmes, the World Health Organisation and the UNFCCC

The working group is coordinated by Genon K. Jensen from the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL). Genon has been involved in work on climate change and health since 2006, serving on the WHO European Region Task Force on Climate Change and contributing to building up climate and health literacy and action in the health and medical community in Europe and internationally through HEAL’s work with other global partners.

To Join

If you are interested in joining this working group, please sign on as a CHE Partner, and indicate your interest in your application. If you are already a CHE Partner and would like to join the listserv for this group send an email request to: checlimate-subscribe@lists.healthandenvironment.org.

Resources and Information


[1]Managing the Health effects of Climate Change, May 13, 2009, http://www.thelancet.com/climate-change, viewed May 16, 2012.

[2]Natural Resources Defense Council. Killer Summer Heat, May 2012; available at http://www.nrdc.org/globalwarming/killer-heat/files/killer-summer-heat-report.pdf, viewed May 25, 2012.

[3] Holland MR. The co-benefits to health of a strong EU climate change policy. Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), Climate Action Network (CAN) and WWF Europe, available at http://www.env-health.org/IMG/pdf/10-_The_co-benefits_to_health_of_a_strong_EU_climate_change_policy.pdf, viewed May 16, 2012.

 

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