As much as half or more of the 12.6 million deaths caused by environmental pollution could be prevented with smart climate change mitigation measures that reduce both carbon dioxide as well as more immediate air, water and chemical pollution emissions. This alarming figure has prompted ministers and senior officials, at COP22, responsible for health or environment, to adopt a Declaration for Health, Environment and Climate Change.
The declaration calls for the establishment of a new global initiative/coalition on health, environment and climate change to drive forward actions that will protect and promote health and reduce harmful impacts on the environment and climate.
Air pollution alone kills about 6.5 million people a year. It also generates very considerable short-lived climate emissions of black carbon, methane and ozone, which warm the planet, accelerate the melting of glacial water reserves critical to health and livelihoods, and stunt agricultural production. Hundreds of thousands more deaths each year are due to direct climate change impacts like more extreme heat waves, weather emergencies, drought, and increased vector-borne disease transmission.
The declaration recognises that well designed policies to protect the environment will result in reducing the global burden of disease attributable to the environment, as well as the rise of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as stroke, heart disease, cancers and chronic respiratory diseases. NCDs account for nearly two-thirds of the total deaths — or 8.2 million deaths — caused by unhealthy environments.
The Ministerial high-level meeting on Health, Environment and Climate Change took place on 15 November 2016 in Marrakech, Morocco.