October 17, 2022
Testimony of Wafaa Al Saidy, General Coordinator for Doctors of the World in Pakistan
The 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) will gather world leaders and important stakeholders in Egypt from 6th to 18th of November 2022 to seek solutions for the urgent climate issues. With the rise of extreme weather events, record greenhouse gas emissions, and a growing energy crisis, COP27 stands as one of the last chances for international cooperation in order to respect the historic Paris Agreement.
Climate change has demonstrated that it not only impacts the planet and the environment, but also affects human beings and their well-being. The past decade has witnessed many cases where global warming has been the main cause of the humanitarian crisis in the world. A few examples include the floods in Pakistan, the droughts that occurred in Europe and East Africa this summer, as well as the increasingly strong monsoons and hurricanes that happen across the globe. It is further estimated that 1.2 billion people will be displaced by 2050 due to climate change creating inhabitable environments. Climate change is recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the greatest health threat of the 21st century.
Extreme weather like the droughts and floods that have been recorded this year have already had catastrophic impacts such as climate-related deaths, displacement, food insecurity and epidemics. While it is Lower Middle Income Countries (LMIC) currently experiencing the brunt of climate change impacts, there is no denying that the whole of humanity is being threatened.
To preserve a livable climate, green-gas emissions must be reduced by half by 2030 and to net zero by 2050, experts say. Sadly, current projections demonstrate that we are far from these goals, and climatic disasters are multiplying and continuing to affect humanity day after day. The latest UN report on climate change denounces the delay in achieving the Paris climate target for maintaining temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
There are some important policies that are on the agenda for COP27. As lower-income countries are paying the highest price, the establishment of a Loss and Damage Finance Facility for those countries has been put on the table. However, this does little to address the core problem of reducing climate change. More concrete measures must be taken at all levels to fight against global warming.
When addressing climate change, it is essential that health must be included in the discussion. The floods that occurred in Asia this past summer have affected 42 million people, destroying their homes, healthcare infrastructure, crops, access to clean water and exposing them to viral outbreaks like cholera and dengue. The insecurity that occurs post climate disaster can heavily impact an individual’s mental health. Despite the clear link between environment and health, there is a lack of integration in new climate policies. Health must become a part of climate action and climate change must be incorporated in the healthcare sector.
Doctors of the World calls on intergovernmental organizations and national governments to take action for the integration of health in the development and implementation of climate policies.
Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, has argued that the only veritable path to a livable planet requires that we abandon the polluting fossil fuels and accelerate our transition to renewable energy. Yet, according to Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, “Only about 133 billion dollars are channeled into nature-based solutions, and investments must triple by 2030 to meet the climate, the nature, and land-neutrality targets.”
Doctors of the World calls on governments to replace fossil fuels with renewables-based energy and to invest in and encourage the use of nature-based solutions for a real energy transition.
MNCs and their supply chains are some of the biggest polluters in the world. They are accountable for 20% of CO2 emissions. Thus, when it comes to the COP27 agenda, MNCs must be a central figure in the discussion of resolving climate change. Furthermore, the global community must reflect on the whole social system they have based on consumption and massive production. It is time to call for governmental regulations that are rooted in social change and change our role as mass consumers.
Doctors of the World urges governments and NGOs to take action in the fight against overconsumption and massive production through necessary regulations and awareness raising.
Fahran Khan Anadolu AFP