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Document Abstract
Published: 2012

Climate Change and Health – time to act: facts and conclusions for industrial and developing countries

Integrating health consequences to climate change mitigation
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Climate change is already having negative consequences on the health of humankind, especially in developing countries. As this will only increase with time, international discourse on the issue needs to become more effective at integrating the health consequences in climate change mitigation. This briefing delves into the facts and conclusions of climate change and health for industrial and developing countries, and calls on them to take action.

The study finds that:
  • the reduction of fossil fuel usage will have long term effects on global warming and mid-term consequences on health through the reduction of diseases
  • the immediate and mid-term health co-benefits of mitigation will come from the reduction of short-lived emissions and longer-lived greenhouse emissions
  • long-lived greenhouse emissions are not directly detrimental to health but indirectly via global warming
  • the immediate health co-benefits will produce substantial cost savings for the health sector indicating that climate change mitigation is urgent in both industrialised and developing countries
  • some medical preventive actions in industrialised countries and among the well-to-do in developing countries have positive effects on health and climate change mitigation
  • this line of reasoning needs to be put forward forcefully in the development and climate politics discourses
  • adaptation measures for the health consequences of climate change are being well planned and implemented in industrialised countries but not in developing countries where adaptation means the improvement of the insufficient Primary Health Care Systems battling to cope with tropical health risks.
The briefing makes the following recommendations:
  • international Health Ministries and professional health institutions should take a central role in promoting mitigation, due to the immediate health co-benefits of mitigation interventions and the negative health effects of an energy intensive health sector which contributes substantially to global warming
  • Ministries of Health in Europe should engage in adaptation and mitigation activities to set an example for other sectors in order to prompt the EU to increase its mitigation target
  • all international development cooperation donors and agencies should be aware of health co-benefits of adaptation and mitigation interventions in developing countries and integrate it in the design and implementation of cooperation programmes while creating awareness of the link in developing countries
  • donor countries should increase their contributions to assist the most vulnerable developing countries in adaptation while promoting awareness of the health and climate change links.
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Authors

W. Zacher (ed)

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