Following two weeks of extensive negotiations at the UN Climate Change Conference COP27, nearly 200 countries have agreed on a set of key outcomes, including the establishment of a fund to address loss and damage due to climate change.
Health professionals and NGOs welcomed the decision to establish a Loss and Damage fund, but slammed the stalled progress on fossil fuel phase-out.
“COP27’s agreement to establish a Loss and Damage fund is a major win for addressing health and other impacts in countries most impacted by climate change – and for global solidarity”, said Jeni Miller, Executive Director of the Global Climate and Health Alliance, which brings together over 130 health organizations from around the world to tackle climate change and to protect and promote public health. “This important and historic step is long overdue, and vitally important to address the real and human impacts of climate change on people who have contributed least to its making.”
“However, despite support from over 80 countries, governments’ collective failure to deliver a clear commitment to phase out all fossil fuels puts us on course to go beyond the already dangerous 1.5 Celsius global temperature rise, and locks in further increase in Loss and Damage due to climate impacts on people’s health and livelihoods”, she added. “Limiting warming to 1.5C, essential to avert catastrophic health impacts, requires phasing out all fossil fuels; and only full fossil fuel phase-out will deliver the maximum health benefits from clean air and a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.”
Miller’s sentiments were shared by various stakeholders from across the globe, whose statements reflected the urgency of the issue at hand.
“Bringing an end to the fossil fuel era as fast as humanly possible is the world’s most important public health imperative. Rapidly transitioning to a 100% clean energy economy is the best path forward to ensure the health, safety and prosperity of our children and grandchildren”, said Ed Maibach, Board of Advisors Liaison, Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health.
“The COP27 decision will only protect the health of people and planet if implemented at scale and fast,” said Alison Doig, Director of the Health and Climate Network, “We need wealthy countries to take the lead to mobilise Loss and Damage finance for the most vulnerable people, and to shift to a world free of the harmful emissions from fossil fuel. We need to move from climate talks to climate action.”
“If we are going to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis we need a just, healthy and rapid transition away from our civilizational addiction to fossil fuels. Governments must overcome the stranglehold the fossil fuel industry has on our politics and forge agreements that put healthy people on a healthy planet at the center”, said Josh Karliner— Director of Global Partnerships, Health Care Without Harm.
“All countries must immediately commit to phasing out of coal, oil and gas as the most important action for the preservation of life on this remarkable, but now threatened planet, Earth. The failure to commit to this collectively at COP27 threatens us all. The poorest and most vulnerable are hit worst and first by the ravages of climate change and biodiversity collapse; the recognition of Loss and Damage at this COP is a step towards restitution”, said Fiona Armstrong, Founder and Executive Director, Climate and Health Alliance (Australia).
“It’s Code RED for our future generations and the signals are loud and clear at COP27 and beyond. Switching on climate action and ensuring climate finance at speed and scale alone can move the most vulnerable away from a harmful trajectory of Loss and Damage to one where they survive and thrive”, said Dr. Poornima Prabhakaran, Director, Centre for Environmental Health at Public Health Foundation of India.
“COP27’s resolution on accelerated financial support for developing countries in particular sub-Saharan Africa is a significant milestone to climate justice. However, no amount of pay will take away the net damage caused by burning of fossil fuels on climate change”, said Martin Muchangi, Director –Climate Change, WASH, & NTDs at Amref Health Africa.
“Despite increased restrictions for the participation of civil society, the health and climate justice community came together to push for a healthier future for all. Through extensive combined efforts Loss and Damage has been agreed upon during COP27 – this is a necessary foundation for the delivery of equitable reparations as well as for the financing of a rapid just green transition towards renewable energy,” said Amit Singh, Founding Committee Member, Youth Climate and Health Network, convened by the Global Climate and Health Alliance.
“However, to mitigate the disastrous impacts of climate change on our individual and collective health, fossil fuels must be phased out. With the International Energy Agency stating that no more new fossil fuel projects can be developed if we are to remain on a healthy track, the lack of agreement between world leaders on this brings great worry for the health of our patients worldwide“, concluded Singh.
For her part, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland, KC, welcomed this development and had congratulatory words for this initial victory but issued cautionary advice concerning our trajectory if efforts towards a unified solution to the underpinnings of climate change are not intensified.
“I welcome this historic outcome from the COP27 summit and applaud the tireless negotiators who have helped bring about this significant step forward. This is an encouraging day for all Commonwealth member countries – including climate-vulnerable small states, least developed countries, developing countries, and indeed for all the world.
“However, while I welcome today’s developments, the threats around us continue to intensify. We must work together to ramp up climate action and ambition, recognising that we are all in the same storm, and the only way for us to survive is by steering in a common direction and taking bold, courageous actions, together.”
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