GLASGOW, Nov 9 (Reuters) – If you thought the COVID pandemic was disruptive and deadly, climate change will be so much worse.
So said a slew of panelists Tuesday at the U.N. climate talks in Glasgow, warning about escalating climate-linked health threats such as disease, heatstroke and air pollution.
But they also called out the health systems in rich nations as part of the problem, with the healthcare sector responsible for up to 5% of global carbon emissions.
“We need to recognize the role of health systems as emitters,” said Rachel Levine, the U.S. assistant secretary of health. “We cannot stand back and only tell others what they should do to protect our patients.”
The main sources of emissions from the healthcare sector include the manufacture and transport of medical goods, as well as the construction and operation of hospitals and clinics.
On Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced dozens of governments had committed to reduce emissions in their health systems or to transition entirely to net-zero.
Speakers also called on countries to get ready for more climate-linked illnesses and casualties.
Already, climate change is worsening food and water security, while deadly heatwaves and floods are testing communities around the world.
A health worker holds a fake death certificate as Extinction Rebellion activists participate in a “peaceful disruption” of the British Parliament as lawmakers return from summer recess, in London, Britain September 2, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Medical systems are often being strained if not damaged by these same types of events.
Fiji’s U.N. Ambassador Satyendra Prasad …….