The United Arab Emirates, hosts of the upcoming UN Climate Conference (COP28), have promised to deliver the first COP with a health focus. In addition to focusing attention on the existential human health risks of climate change, it is vital that a “Health COP” delivers commitments that maximize the health gains that can be obtained from more aggressive mitigation and adaptation. However, stalemates on finance and mitigation negotiations during the recent COP28 preparatory talks in Bonn (SB58) have left this December’s conference with a mountain to climb.
What should world leaders do to make COP28 a true Health COP? It’s a welcome start to have a Health Day and an inter-ministerial meeting that brings health ministers to COP as part of their national delegations. To be a true Health COP, however, COP28 must deliver an end to the fossil fuel era, deliver financial and technical support to countries most impacted and least responsible for climate change, and bring climate progress centred on people’s health and well-being.