The Paris Agreement: The Strongest Public Health Agreement of the Century

December 29, 2018//-The Paris Climate Agreement, signed at COP21, is a global safeguard for human health.

 It specifies that “Parties should, when taking action to address climate change, respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on the right to health” and recognizes the central role of “mitigation actions and their co-benefits for adaptation, health and sustainable development” in enhanced action before 2020.

The 2015 Paris Agreement is the first climate agreement to gain strong global support, having now been ratified by 183 countries.

The Agreement sets clear targets: to limit global temperature rise to well below 2°C and to pursue efforts to minimize warming to no more than 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels.

It also provides mechanisms to help countries not only to meet their mitigation targets but also to effectively adapt to climate change.

The Nationally determined contributions (NDCs) allow each country to set nationally relevant, attainable commitments to meet the targets of the Agreement.

Low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are supported by funding mechanisms, with a commitment to mobilize US$ 100 billion in climate funding annually by 2020.

This will allow countries more flexibility in finding the most appropriate ways of tackling climate change, while ensuring that all Parties contribute to meeting global goals.

Its objective is to “strengthen the global response to climate change, in the context of sustainable development”, thereby linking the climate change agenda to Agenda 2030 and the SDGs.

Achieving the SDGs could improve health now and for future generations. Yet, truly sustainable development is not possible without climate mitigation and adaption, which should be included in development programmes.

“Climate action is development action”; as social resilience and economic productivity depend on the good health of populations, health must be central to climate change policy.

Work with countries to achieve zero-carbon development and improve adaptive capacity and resilience concurrently is central to improving health.

The dual focus of the Paris Agreement on mitigation and adaptation is important for two reasons. First, countries contribute to differing extents to climate change: high-income countries (HICs) emit cumulatively more GHGs than LMICs.

Secondly, countries are affected differently by climate change: those that have contributed least to anthropogenic climate change are often the most vulnerable and the most severely affected.

Adaptation and mitigation are therefore essential to any successful accord, including to protect health. Thus, the Paris Agreement is potentially the strongest health agreement of this century, as it addresses not only the health risks associated with climate change through mitigation and adaptation but also helps ensure attainment of the SDGs, which are integral to good health.

Health should therefore be formally integrated within the UNFCCC negotiations and the Paris Agreement itself.

COP 24 Special Report: Health and Climate Change, which was launched recently at the United Nations negotiations on climate change in Katowice, Poland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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