Climate action ‘can’t wait for Covid’

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The authors say better air quality alone would benefit health so much that the global costs of emissions reductions would easily be offset. AFP

Global warming is already affecting people’s health so much that emergency action on climate change cannot be put on hold while the world deals with the Covid-19 pandemic, medical journals across the globe warned on September 6.

“Health is already being harmed by global temperature increases and the destruction of the natural world,” read an editorial published in more than 220 leading journals ahead of the Cop26 climate summit in November.

Since the pre-industrial era, temperatures have risen around 1.1 degrees Celsius, and the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that could reach 1.5C around 2030.

And that, along with the continued loss of biodiversity, “risk catastrophic harm to health that will be impossible to reverse”, warned the editorial, written by the editors-in-chief of over a dozen journals.

“In the past 20 years, heat-related mortality among people older than 65 years has increased by more than 50 per cent,” it read.

“Higher temperatures have brought increased dehydration and renal function loss, dermatological malignancies, tropical infections, adverse mental health outcomes, pregnancy complications, allergies, and cardiovascular and pulmonary morbidity and mortality.”

The authors also said “governments must make fundamental changes to how our societies and economies are organised and how we live”.