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HEAL’s Weronika Michalak recently presented on climate change and health at a hearing in the Senate, Poland’s upper chamber. The meeting explored the direction in which Polish climate policy should go in the coming years, following COP26. The experts expressed their concern about the inaction and tardiness of the Polish government in the face of the climate crisis.

The Senate event included short statements by political, science and NGO representatives, which focused on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from various sectors of the economy (energy, construction, transport and agriculture), the prevention of deforestation, funds for green transformation, adaptation to climate change and aid for countries already experiencing the effects of climate change. 

Weronika Michalak, HEAL Poland Director, pointed out that the impact of the climate crisis was already felt today in every corner of the world – including in Poland, even though a narrative that the catastrophic effects of climate change are yet to come in an undefined future was still popular.

“[Climate change] is already happening, and it is worsening health and leading to premature deaths of thousands of people right now”, Weronika Michalak said. She pointed to the broad spectrum of health effects of climate change including heat waves that cause several thousand early deaths each year in Poland, and the increasing danger of vector-borne diseases such as Lyme disease, which affects several times more people in Poland than a dozen years ago. “Let us act here and now, let us think that both today’s and tomorrow’s  generations are important. Let us not allow the negative health effects [of climate change] to worsen, and at the same time, let us protect people from the effects that are already taking place”, she concluded.

The hearing was attended by scientists, experts, climate activists as well as representatives of various parties of the democratic opposition. It included speeches from: Dr. Andrzej Kassenberg from the Institute for Sustainable Development, Grzegorz Wiśniewski from the Institute for Renewable Energy, Radosław Gawlik from the EKO-UNIA Association, Anna Ogniewska from Greenpeace Poland, Urszula Stefanowicz from the Polish Ecological Club and Climate Coalition, Michał Hetmański from InStrat Foundation, Weronika Michalak from HEAL Poland, Ilona Jędrasik from ClientEarth Poland, Kamil Wyszkowski from Global Compact, Anna Pięta from MUDA Talks, Jadwiga Klata from Extinction Rebellion, Dominika Lasota from Youth Climate Strike.

The full event can be watched (in Polish) on the recording on the Facebook of the Greens.