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WHO says Climate action at COP26 conference could save millions of lives a year
Climate change-Pollution/Pixabay

The Channel News Asia reported according to media outlets, the World Health Organization and about three-quarters of global health care workers on Monday (Oct 11) called on governments to step up climate action at the COP26 global climate conference, saying it could save millions of lives a year.


The UN health agency's report on climate change and health calls for transformational action in every sector including energy, transport and finance, saying the public health benefits of ambitious climate actions far outweigh the costs.


The WHO said on Monday: "The burning of fossil fuels is killing us. Climate change is the single biggest health threat facing humanity."


The WHO has previously said about 13.7 million deaths a year, or around 24.3 per cent of the global total, were due to environmental risks such as air pollution and chemical exposure.


Climate change-Solar Energy/Pixabay

It is not clear exactly how many of those are directly linked to climate change, although the WHO's Maria Neira said about 80 per cent of the deaths from air pollution could be prevented through compliance with its guidelines.


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Climate change is also stoking some infectious diseases such as dengue fever and malaria, causing deaths in some of the world's poorest regions, said Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, head of a WHO climate change unit.


He said: "Our health is not negotiable: we are going into climate negotiations, we are negotiating many things but the life of a single child whether it is lost to air pollution or climate change is not something that should be on the table."


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The report's release coincides with a letter backed by more than 400 health bodies representing more than 45 million nurses, doctors and medical professionals also calling for action.


Ruth Etzel with the International Pediatric Association said: "Paediatricians are speaking up because we do prevention, we give immunisations to prevent communicable diseases and we are speaking up now because we know that the health of the people and the health of the climate are one."


Last week, the United Nations Human Rights Council recognised access to a clean and healthy environment as a fundamental right, adding its weight to the fight against climate change.


Source: cna