There are just 22 days left until governments meet in Dubai for COP28.
It comes after a year of some of the most extreme weather conditions on record, with historic heat, wildfires, storms and flooding taking place all over the world; while chronic respiratory diseases have now become the third leading cause of death globally.
For the first time in the history of the global climate negotiations, health is officially on the agenda and health ministers are already lining up to attend from Brazil; Egypt; Fiji; Germany; India; Kenya; the Netherlands; Sierra Leone; UK; US; Vietnam and perhaps Australia. The COP28 Presidency is convening health ministries and governments around a new declaration on climate and health to be announced at COP28. This level of political engagement could mark a new era for health within the climate talks.
Furthermore, in the last week the voice of the health community has reverberated around the world to unite and demand climate action. Health leaders from organizations representing over 46 million health professionals have issued an Open Letter to the President of COP and along with GPs from across the globe, demand the end of fossil fuels due to the impact they are having on patients and communities worldwide. The World Health Organization invites individual health professionals and health organizations to sign onto a call to action, to end fossil fuels, build resilient, low carbon health systems, and deliver promised climate finance, signed by over 3 million health professionals to date. Together, the drumbeat for a healthy climate is getting too loud to ignore.
At the same time, plans for a loss and damage fund, which governments at COP27 agreed to establish to help countries recover from extreme weather events and other climate impacts, have not progressed well in recent days. A loss and damage fund which meets the needs of vulnerable communities is vital because countries are already bearing the brunt of climate change due to inadequate action by world leaders to date to limit climate pollution or prepare communities
So, what would a healthy COP28 outcome really look like, and how can you make your voice heard? Hear Jeni Miller, Executive Director of the GCHA, on our call to action.
And for the more specific asks, this what our networks are lobbying for during the negotiations themselves:
1) Phase out of all fossil fuels and a just transition to renewable energy.
2) Adequate finance to protect and address the health needs of communities.
3) Recognition of health as an outcome and an indicator of effective climate action.
We’re excited that so many from the health community will be attending COP28 in person. There are over 60 health related events already confirmed, and hundreds of health groups will be represented in person. To prepare for COP, GHCA has been working with over 300 members of the climate and health community to define the health community’s key policy positions for COP28. You can get in touch with us directly to get involved.
However, let’s be clear, you don’t need to attend COP28 in person to make a difference. Here are just a few ways to find out more about what your government is doing on climate and health, and to make your voice heard:
- If you are part of the health community, do add your name and share the Open Letter to COP28 demanding an end to fossil fuels
- Health professionals can also sign onto the WHO Call for Climate Action.
- Track how your government is doing to integrate health and clean air into its climate planning via the NDC Scorecard.
Finally, we’re delighted to announce the launch of The Climate and Us, a series of short films documenting the stories of health and climate from all around the world produced by BBC Story Works Commercial Productions in partnership with GCHA. Do come explore (watch here if you’re in the UK or China.)
We are collating news and updates from the health community in #CountdowntoCOP28. Do get in touch if you’ve got something you’d like us to feature.