COP26 and Health: Some Progress, But Too Slow and Not Enough

The Health Community Must Step Up Its Efforts to Hold Countries Accountable for Reducing Greenhouse Emissions and Promoting Adaptation

Authors

  • Laurie Laybourn-Langton Senior Adviser, UK Health Alliance on Climate Change, United Kingdom
  • Richard Smith Chair, UK Health Alliance on Climate Change, United Kingdom

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.5195/ijms.2021.1303

Keywords:

Climate change, Health, COP26

Abstract

The editorial on climate change and biodiversity published in over 220 health journals in September had two main demands: keep global temperature increases below 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels to avoid catastrophic damage to health; and accept that this can be achieved only by rich countries making bigger cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and transferring substantial resources to the countries’ most vulnerable the effects of climate change.1 Neither demand was fully met at COP26 in Glasgow. The editorial was also aiming to make the voice of the health community more prominent in global discussions on climate change and environmental destruction. Some progress was made with this aim, but again not enough.

 

Although the mantra of COP26 was “keep 1.5°C alive,” the pledges made by countries to reduce emissions are insufficient to keep the temperature rise to below 1.5°C. Before COP26, the United Nations estimated that current pledges will lead to an increase of 2.7°C, a level that would lead to devastating effects on health through extreme weather events, crop failure, water shortages, forced migration, conflict, and a rise in sea level that will mean the disappearance of some island countries.2 Even with the additional pledges made at COP26, temperatures are expected to rise well above 2°C.3

We must encourage countries to be bolder in cutting emissions, promoting adaptation, supporting vulnerable countries – and do more to hold them to account. We must also concentrate on implementation, particularly within health systems where we have most influence.

References

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Published

2021-12-16 — Updated on 2022-01-06

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How to Cite

Laybourn-Langton, L., & Smith, R. (2022). COP26 and Health: Some Progress, But Too Slow and Not Enough: The Health Community Must Step Up Its Efforts to Hold Countries Accountable for Reducing Greenhouse Emissions and Promoting Adaptation. International Journal of Medical Students, 9(4), 255–256. https://doi.org/10.5195/ijms.2021.1303 (Original work published December 16, 2021)

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Editorial

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