WHO Calls for Strong Climate Agreement at UN Conference

WHO estimates that climate change is already causing tens of thousands of deaths per year from shifting patterns of disease, extreme weather events, and from the degradation of air quality, food and water supplies, and sanitation.

Calling climate change "the defining issue for the 21st century," the World Health Organization on Nov. 17 issued a statement calling on participants in the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris to reach a strong international climate agreement that protects the health of current and future generations. The conference begins Nov. 30 and continues through Dec. 11.

WHO estimates that climate change is already causing tens of thousands of deaths per year from shifting patterns of disease, extreme weather events, and from the degradation of air quality, food and water supplies, and sanitation. In 2012 alone, the organization estimates 7 million people died from air pollution-related diseases, and it predicts climate change will cause an additional 250,000 deaths per year from malaria, diarrhoea, heat stress, and poor nutrition between 2030 and 2050.

"In preparation for COP-21, countries have made important commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions and scale up adaptation to climate change, but more needs to be done. If countries take strong actions to address climate change, while protecting and promoting health, they will collectively bring about a planet that is not only more environmentally intact, but also has cleaner air, more abundant and safer freshwater and food, more effective and fairer health and social protection systems -- and as a result, healthier people," the statement says. "The United Nations Climate Change Conference is the time for the health community to lend their voice to the international climate discussion and ask countries to come together and make bold commitments to protect our planet and the health of current and future generations."

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