The World Health Organization’s leading expert on environmental matters, Maria Neira, has cautioned that politicians who procrastinate on taking action to address climate change should be prepared to accept the consequences on human well-being. She emphasized the need for them to consider the burden of their decisions, stressing that delaying action means they are not safeguarding the lives of people, even if she hesitates to use the word “killing.”

Last Thursday, the World Meteorological Organization, along with numerous research partners, including the WHO, issued a dire warning that climate change poses a substantial threat to the progress made in human health over recent decades.

Maria Neira firmly stated, “Nobody will be able to say ‘I didn’t know.’ No one will leave Cop this year saying ‘Oh, I didn’t know health was affected.’ We will ensure that this is not the case. Everyone needs to understand that this isn’t just about climate, polar bears, and glaciers. This is about my lungs and your lungs.”

The burning of coal, oil, and gas releases harmful particles that lead to the premature death of millions of people annually. Additionally, these emissions contribute to global warming, intensifying extreme weather events, raising the risk of crop failures, and facilitating the spread of certain diseases.

Neira emphasized that, whether negotiators at Cop acknowledge it or not, they are fundamentally negotiating with the well-being of our health. In recent years, doctors have become increasingly vocal about the detrimental effects of inadequate climate policies on human health, as the scientific and medical evidence supporting these concerns continues to mount. Last year, the WHO director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, described the subsidization and burning of fossil fuels as “an act of self-sabotage.”


By Malik

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