“The Paris climate agreement is a prescription for a healthy planet that can address the world's greatest public health threat. Now we will need to go on a crash renewable energy and low carbon diet that both stabilizes the climate and reduces diseases related to our addiction to fossil fuels.” Gary Cohen, President, Health Care Without Harm
The new Paris climate treaty is far from perfect, but it takes a major step to move the world away from fossil fuels and toward 100% clean, renewable energy in the coming decades.
It represents a turning point in history; the world’s governments have recognized the need to protect the health of people and the planet by keeping fossil fuels in the ground and shifting the world economy toward a path of greater sustainability and equity.
If implemented in a progressive fashion, this accord could become known as the greatest public health accomplishment of our time by forestalling what is widely acknowledged as the greatest public health threat of this century.
The agreement itself does not go far enough to achieve the change necessary to forestall some of the most serious impacts of climate change. Nor does it usher in an immediate transformation that would protect public health from the acute consequences of fossil fuel combustion such as air pollution which is killing millions of people every year. Nor does it provide adequate financing for such a transition in developing countries. Yet it takes important steps in all of those directions.
The Paris agreement provides a foundation—agreed upon by all the world’s governments—to address climate change. It is a foundation that can be built upon by all parties in coming years.
Health Care Without Harm stands committed to continue to mobilize the health sector to implement and build on the Paris accord by working with hospitals and health systems around the world to reduce their own carbon footprint, prepare for the already growing impacts of climate change, and play a leadership role to foster policy and economic measures that protect local and global health from climate change.