main banner
You are here: Home page » Resources » Letters

To: President Barroso
Re: Europe’s emissions reduction target to the UNFCCC Secretariat, 31 January 2010

Brussels, 22 January 2010

To: The President of the European Commission

Concerning: Europe’s emissions reduction target to the UNFCCC Secretariat, 31 January 2010

Protect health through ambitious EU climate change commitments

Dear Mr. Jose Manuel Barroso

As you are aware, the Copenhagen Accord requires industrialised countries to register their formal emissions reduction pledges for 2020 with the UNFCCC Secretariat by 31 January 2010.

The two-leading European health organisations, Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) and Health Care Without Harm Europe (HCWHE) are calling on you to ensure that the EU:

- pledges a 40% unconditional emissions reduction target by 2020 compared to 1990 levels, through domestic action

- commits to least 35 billion euro per year in new and additional public financing by 2020 as Europe’s fair share of total international climate 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.

We are concerned that climate change is already causing hundreds of additional deaths each day around the world, and higher temperatures and more frequent extreme weather events are exacerbating some of the major causes of child mortality particularly in developing countries.

Above all, 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.

Studies have clearly shown how stronger targets on climate change could protect health. One European review has estimated that a 30% target on greenhouse gas emission reductions from 1990 levels by 2020 would result in health benefits of up to 76 billion Euros per year from 2020 onwards.1 Moving to a 40% domestic emissions reduction target would significantly improve people’s health in Europe, reduce rising healthcare costs and protect our fragile ecosystems.

Additionally, by putting at least 40% reduction target on the table, the EU could significantly increase the chances of a breakthrough at the COP 16 in Mexico and hold true to its track record as a global leader on environmental protection and sustainable development.

The health sector is committed to a fair, ambitious and binding international climate change treaty that provides for public health, drastically reduces greenhouse gas emissions, promotes alternative, renewable energy and provides significant funding for developing countries to adapt and mitigate.2

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


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

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

1. The co-benefits to health of a strong EU climate change policy, 2008, CAN Europe, Health and Environment Alliance, WWF september_2008.pdf

See also: recent study on health co-benefits: Lancet Series report on Health and Climate Change, 25 November 2009

2. HCHW and HEAL post-Copenhagen Position Statement: 05_Position_statement_after_Copenhagen_final.pdf

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 »

Contact us

Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL)
28 Boulevard Charlemagne
B1000 Brussels, Belgium
Phone: +32 2 234 3640
Fax: +32 2 234 3649
Press: Elke Zander

Direct telephone numbers: HEAL team page.

HEAL website privacy policy