Health groups call on the leaders of the Western Balkan countries to harmonize national air quality standards with the World Health Organization Global air quality guidelines. Health experts should be actively involved in these decision-making processes to ensure the timely integration of public health measures into environmental policies. Compliance with WHO recommendations brings multiple benefits – reduced incidence of chronic diseases and premature deaths, reduced overall health costs and, most importantly, better health and higher productivity of people.
Today, the 2019 Lancet Countdown report has been published, with a focus on children’s health and climate change, but also on the potential of transforming children’s health through climate action for the better.
The life of every child born today will be profoundly affected by climate change, with populations around the world increasingly facing extremes of weather, food and water insecurity, changing patterns of infectious disease, and a less certain future. Without accelerated intervention, this new era will come to define the health of people at every stage of their lives.
A second path – which limits the global average temperature rise to “well below 2ºC” – is possible, and would transform the health of a child born today for the better, throughout their lives. Placing health at the centre of the coming transition will yield enormous dividends for the public and the economy, with cleaner air, safer cities, and healthier diets.
Bold new approaches to policy making, research, and business are needed in order to change course. An unprecedented challenge demands an unprecedented response. It will take the work of the 7.5 billion people currently alive to ensure that the health of a child born today is not defined by a changing climate.
The Lancet Countdown team published policy briefs for various countries and regions, in addition to the Global report. Amongst these, also a EU Policy Briefing, co-authored by HEAL’s partner Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME). They can be found here
HEAL’s Director for Strategy and Campaigns Anne Stauffer commented:
‘The new evidence brought forward by the Lancet Countdown underlines that all of us – policy-makers, organisations, concerned citizens – need to act now in order to protect children tomorrow. The report shows that we’re at a crossroads: the business as usual approach that has continued despite all climate pledges has already impacted people’s health in many ways and harm will continue to grow. Climate action on the other hand will ensure children growing up healthy, on a healthy planet.
The next months will be “make or break” time for the new EU institutions. If they’re serious about having understood the climate emergency, they need to take decisive action for swift decarbonisation, for example with a coal phase out across Europe by 2030, a more ambitious EU 2030 climate goal to keep the Paris Agreement, financial incentives to prioritise sustainable and active mobility including walking & cycling, and proposals on how to reach WHO’s clean air recommendations by 2030. We must not fail children and young people.”