High hopes ahead of UN Climate Summit

HCWH Europe's Climate Policy & Membership Officer Kornelia Bagi discusses the upcoming UN Climate Summit 2014.

Next week political leaders, businesses and civil society representatives will meet in New York for the UN Climate Summit, an event which aims to be a catalyst for further action on climate change. On 16 September, the European Parliament discussed the Summit in a plenary debate without resolution. This was the first plenary debate on climate change of the new legislative term and also the last EP debate on this issue for the current Commissioner for Climate Action.

During the debate, speakers reiterated the urgency of the situation and called for further EU action. Notably, they voiced support for the adoption of an ambitious 2030 climate and energy package with three biding targets by the European Council in October 2014, which HCWH Europe strongly supports.

Although the upcoming Climate Summit is not part of the UNFCCC (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) negotiations, it is still an important milestone on the way to COP 21 in Paris. It has the potential to create a new momentum to tackle climate change and increase public engagement on an issue that affects us all. In addition to taking stock of commitments, the Summit will highlight the benefits of taking action, including the somewhat neglected health co-benefits.

"It is our hope that the climate change debate places increased attention on the consequences for public health." 

— Kornelia Bagi

Impact of climate change on health

It has long been recognised that climate change has a serious impact on human health. The relevant chapter of the second volume of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report finds that within the next few decades, climate change will mainly affect human health by intensifying the already existing health problems, and putting a strain on public health systems.[1]

The World Health Organization held the first global working meeting on climate change and health at the end of August 2014 in Geneva, which sought to discuss the situation and identify solutions. The meeting produced a draft summary that recognizes both the need to strengthen health resilience to climate change and the opportunity to make gains in public health through well-planned mitigation measures. A final outcome document with the conference conclusions will be used as input to the Climate Summit.

Our support 

We hope that next week’s Summit will generate the political impetus that is necessary to reach a meaningful and legally binding global agreement at the COP21 negotiations in Paris. Furthermore, it is our hope that the climate change debate places increased attention on the consequences for public health.

As a sign of support for increased climate action and our commitment to our policy work on this issue, staff from HCWH Europe will be attending the People’s Climate March in Brussels on Sunday 21st September. We encourage you to take part in an event near you.

– Kornelia Bagi, Climate Policy & Membership Officer (kornelia.bagi@hcwh.org)

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[1]Smith, K.R., A. Woodward, D. Campbell-Lendrum, D.D. Chadee, Y. Honda, Q. Liu, J.M. Olwoch, B. Revich, and R. Sauerborn, 2014: Human health: impacts, adaptation, and co-benefits. In: Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part A: Global and Sectoral Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Field, C.B., V.R. Barros, D.J. Dokken, K.J. Mach, M.D. Mastrandrea, T.E. Bilir, M. Chatterjee, K.L. Ebi, Y.O. Estrada, R.C. Genova, B. Girma, E.S. Kissel, A.N. Levy, S. MacCracken, P.R. Mastrandrea, and L.L. White (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, pp. XXX-YYY.