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Health Argument Vital To Discussions, Policies On Climate Change

Newsweek: The Paris Agreement Will Save Our Lives
Maria Neira, director of the Department of Public Health, Environmental, and Social Determinants of Health at the WHO

“As parties gather this week in Poland at the annual United Nations climate change conference, the health sector is making a loud and strong argument for health to be at the heart of all discussions and policy decisions on climate change. Though the focus of the Paris Agreement is on rising temperatures and increased carbon dioxide, at its core, it is a safeguard for human health worldwide. The Paris Agreement is not only an historic climate pact, but also an unprecedented health treaty. … The health benefits of switching to low-carbon energy sources are not just felt in improvements in air quality. When cities promote active transport methods — such as biking or walking as alternatives to using private vehicles — not only can they reduce carbon dioxide emissions and air pollution, but also decrease traffic injuries and encourage increased physical activity which helps prevent diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. … Health implications must be part of the equation every time governments discuss climate change mitigation and adaptation measures and policies. When the full value of health is taken into account, the case for investing in cleaner technologies is clear. … We have the health community’s strong backing for action on climate change…” (12/13).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.