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To: EU Environment Ministers
Re: Input to Environment Council meeting 21 October Council conclusions on the Preparation of the EU Position for COP 15

Brussels, 20 October 2009

To: EU Environment Ministers

Concerning: Input to Environment Council meeting 21 October Council conclusions on the Preparation of the EU Position for COP 15

Dear Minister,

The two leading health organisations, Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) and Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Europe, would like to stress the critical nature of your Environment Council meeting on 21 October as an occasion in which we would like you to strengthen the EU’s position in the negotiations towards a global climate agreement in Copenhagen.

Climate change will affect our individual health, public health and health care systems in the EU and globally. The latest science suggests that a reduction in greenhouse gases by at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2020 is the minimum required to keep global warming well below the dangerous 2°C level. In light of recent evidence showing that the earth is warming at an even faster pace than previously predicted, we find the current EU emissions reduction targets to be inadequate.

Therefore, HEAL and HCWH Europe joins European NGOs1 in asking the EU to:

  • Commit to an emissions reduction target of more than 40% below 1990 levels by 2020, in line with the most recent science. Major public health benefits and health care savings, such as reduced respiratory illnesses, can be achieved if the EU maintains its commitment to at least 30% or more greenhouse gas reductions domestically by 2020 from 1990 emission levels. Moreover, with a 30% target the EU could reap health savings of up to 25 billion euros every year from the domestic emissions reductions.
  • Commit to at least 35 billion euro per year in new and additional public financing by 2020 as Europe’s fair share of total international financing. This funding should be used to reduce emissions and to support mitigation, adaptation, capacity building and technology co- operation in developing countries and also to strengthen and prepare the healthcare sector to cope with the effects of climate change. This financing should be predictable, timely and ensured through appropriate legally binding mechanisms agreed under the UNFCCC.

We call on you to make sure that the EU maintains its leadership role in international climate discussions and establish emissions reduction targets that are in line with its climate objective of keeping global warming well below the dangerous 2°C level.

We look forward to working with you to ensure that health becomes a cornerstone of international and EU climate change policy.


Genon Jensen - Executive Director, Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL)

Anja Leetz - Executive Director, Healthcare Without Harm Europe (HCWHE)

1. This letter was prepared with contribution from Climate Action Network Europe.

Last updated on 13 June 2011

About HEAL

The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a leading European not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union (EU). We demonstrate how policy changes can help protect health and enhance people’s quality of life. Read more »


HEAL has over 70 member organisations, representing health professionals, not-for-profit health insurers, doctors, nurses, cancer and asthma groups, citizens, women’s groups, youth groups, environmental NGOs, scientists and public health institutes. Members include international and Europe-wide organisations, as well as national and local groups. Read more »

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