PUBLICATION: Health concerns in the climate change debate

Researchers from Centre Virchow-Villermé (4C-Health project), Politics of the Earth, The Hugo Observatory and the University of Geneva published an article in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, that  seeks to present the role of health concerns in the scientific debates on climate change, but also in actual climate policies and international negotiations. 

Scientists argue that climate change may be the greatest global health threat of the 21st century [1]. In recent years, it has been also identified by the global health community as a great opportunity to improve health [2].

Much of the policy development in climate change is coming from international consensus built by the 195 parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The 21st Conference of the Parties in Paris represented an important step to protect and promote health in the face of climate change as for the first time “the right to health” was recognized. This opinion article outlines the influence of health concerns in the scientific and policy debate on climate change.

There has been an increasing emphasis on climate change impacts on human health fostering collaborations of scientists coming from different disciplines. A growing number of successful examples of global health advocacy for policy change have identified the health co-benefits of climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies.

Despite these substantial progresses, significant hurdles remain: climate change and health has been under-researched in comparison to other topics and sectors and there are still few cases where climate change is brought into national public health development processes.



[1] Costello A, Abbas M, Allen A, Ball S, Bell S, Bellamy R, et al. Managing the health effects of climate change: Lancet and University College London Institute for Global Health Commission. Lancet Lond Engl. 2009 May 16;373(9676):1693–733.

[2] Watts N, Adger WN, Agnolucci P, Blackstock J, Byass P, Cai W, et al. Health and climate change: policy responses to protect public health. Lancet Lond Engl. 2015 Jun 24;

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