Climate Change and Health on the global agenda

With the election of French President Emmanuel Macron this year, climate change came once again at the forefront of the French political agenda. Only one month after taking up presidency and after the US President Donald Trump decided to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, the French President made global headlines by calling on foreign scientists to join his initiative “Make Our Planet Great Again” to fight against climate change. This research initiative encourages scientists and entrepreneurs to move to France to work on climate change. It was shortly followed by a similar initiative of the German government, sending a strong signal of the willingness of the two countries to tackle together major planetary issues.

The Paris Agreement marked the beginning of a new era in the global response to these threats, and not only in the environmental sector: The World Health Organization said that the “climate treaty” would become a “public health treaty” as countries take action. Awareness on the links between Climate Change and Health is rapidly rising. An international research collaboration, entitled The Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change, was launched in order to “track the world’s response to climate change, and the health benefits that emerge from this transition. Reporting annually in The Lancet, it will follow a series of indicators, demonstrating that this transition is possible, that it has already begun, but that more work is needed”. The first results of this initiative will be published in The Lancet before COP23. As a member of this initiative, the CVV has developed two indicators that will be presented in the upcoming publication: an in-depth analysis of newspaper coverage on health and climate change, and a review of scientific publications linking climate change and health. Furthermore, the CVV is studying two other aspects of the climate change and health relationship in its 4C-Health consortium: the existing legislation on this topic as well as the state of climate change education in medical and public health curricula.

The coming weeks will be marked by important international climate conferences: the COP23 in November in Bonn, Germany, under the presidency of Fiji; and on December 12, the international summit on climate change in Paris initiated by Emmanuel Macron. As for previous COPs, the CVV will organize a side event on November 9: “Displacements induced by El Niño: a public health issue”. Mrs Nazhat Shameem-Khan, Ambassador and Chief Negotiator for Fiji, will be among the speakers. The side-event seeks to connect the migration and health issues that are associated with El Niño oscillations, and show how innovative tools may be best applied to predict El Niño oscillations and patterns of emerging disease.

More information on these projects as well as other CVV’s activities on climate change and health are available online.

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