Inaction on Climate Change will have devastating health impacts

By June Shannon Policy News   |   13th Aug 2021

Climate change is “the defining crisis of our times” – the Climate and Health Alliance

Inaction on climate change will lead to “devastating health consequences” for everyone, the Climate and Health Alliance has said.

Responding to the recent report of the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Climate and Health Alliance; an alliance of public health NGOs of which the Irish Heart Foundation is a founding member, called on the government to immediately implement the necessary changes to reduce emissions.

“The health of the planet and health of current and future human generations depends on it,” the Alliance stated. 

According to the Alliance, the conclusion of the Sixth report of the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is “stark and unambiguous.”

“The climate crisis engulfing the world is unequivocally caused by human activities and is affecting every corner of the planet’s land, air, and sea already. It is clear in stating that human activity is changing the Earth’s climate in unprecedented ways and some of these changes are now inevitable and irreversible.

The global community, including Ireland, has repeatedly ignored the warning of climate scientists over the past decades and now we are experiencing the devastating impact of this climate emergency in the form of rising temperatures, devastating floods, fiercer wildfires, and more searing and long-lasting droughts. These human-induced climate events will not only have an extremely damaging impact on the health of our planet but also on human health, particularly those already most vulnerable.”

" These human-induced climate events will not only have an extremely damaging impact on the health of our planet but also on human health,"

The Climate and Health Alliance

In a statement the Alliance went on to say that over the next twenty years temperatures were likely to rise by more than 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels, bringing more of the widespread devastation and extreme weather events that we are currently seeing.

“Only by undertaking immediate rapid and drastic reduction in greenhouse gases in this decade can we prevent escalating this climate crisis. Continuing a trajectory of business as usual or embarking on minimal emission reductions will simply exacerbate this climate emergency and the associated human health impacts. Even limiting the heating to 2 degrees C will result in significantly more suffering for all life on Earth,” the Alliance stated.

It added that planetary health and human health were inextricably inter-linked but too often overlooked.

“Climate change affects the social and environmental determinants of health – clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food, and secure shelter. Failure to act will have devastating health impacts for all of us.”

" Failure to act will have devastating health impacts for all of us.”

The Climate and Health Alliance

The Alliance noted that the positive news from the report was that keeping heating of the planet to 1.5 degrees C and limiting health-impacting climate events was still possible but only if “immediate, rapid, and large-scale reductions’’ take place.

“In Ireland, we have justifiably committed to an ambitious climate bill that seeks to halve carbon emissions by 2030 and to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. This is to be hugely welcomed. Nevertheless, this harrowing report only underlines the need for urgent action to meet the grand rhetoric. The Government and opposition must support and implement evidence-based measures immediately that will reduce our emissions to meet our targets and ensure a just transition,” the Alliance stated.

The Alliance called on the government to heed the advice of the report and make ‘’strong, rapid and sustained reductions’’ in methane in addition to slashing carbon dioxide emissions.

“The report is clear that we will not be able to meet the 1.5 degrees C target without aggressive action methane emissions which will require the Irish agricultural sector to undergo rapid transformation to become more sustainable and this includes reductions in the herd size.”

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air pollution climate change climate crisis global warming health impact of climate change The Climate and Health Alliance

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