Current Climate Change Trajectory Devastating to Health
Statement from PHI President and CEO Mary A. Pittman on Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
“The findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released Friday portend devastating impacts on health if nations around the world fail to ramp up our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. PHI calls upon heads of state, business leaders, and leaders in civil society to heed the IPCC’s warnings and take action. Many strategies to address climate change offer substantial co-benefits to health, which can save lives and reduce health care costs: PHI also urges public health practitioners to speak out, so that the public and decision makers know what’s at stake for health.
“Climate change threatens food production and clean water supplies, increases the spread of vector-, food- and water-borne diseases, threatens air quality and thus respiratory and cardiovascular health, and promises to create hundreds of thousands of climate refugees. It is hitting underserved and already-vulnerable communities the hardest, and will set back progress on chronic disease, health equity and development goals worldwide.
“If we fail to take bold action on climate change, our children’s children and generations that follow them will continue to grapple with the health impacts of extreme weather, increased drought and flooding, sea level rise, extreme heat, and myriad other impacts of climate change.
“Recognizing the urgency of the issue, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has announced that he will convene a UN Climate Summit in 2014, and challenges world leaders from across sectors to bring “bold pledges” that will lay the groundwork for sustained and substantial progress on climate change. PHI applauds the Secretary General’s challenge.
“We still have the opportunity to prevent catastrophic climate change and its devastating impacts on health, but we must act now.”