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To: UNFCCC National focal points
Re: Input to Intersessional informal consultations on climate change, 10 – 14 August

Brussels, 2 July 2009

To: European Region National Focal Points for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

Concerning: Input to Intersessional informal consultations on climate change, 10 – 14 August

Put health in the centre of climate change work towards Copenhagen and beyond

Dear Madam/Sir,

Climate change is affecting our individual and public health and healthcare systems in EU and globally. Already stretched healthcare resources are going to become even further extended as more people are made ill by climate change.

If society is already struggling to finance current healthcare needs, we will certainly have serious difficulties when we start needing more healthcare - especially as the vulnerable, aging proportion of the population increases in size.

Healthcare systems will have to deal with the consequences. Yet in the current discussions on climate change, there is not enough representation from those with expertise or a vital stake in the health impacts of strong measures tackling climate change.

You have the opportunity to change this and bring health to the centre of international and national climate change discussions and outcomes for and beyond Copenhagen.

We therefore urge you to:

1. Advocate for strong reductions in greenhouse gas emissions

Strive for an ambitious, fair and effective international agreement at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting in Copenhagen in December 2009. Major public health benefits and healthcare savings, such as reduced respiratory illnesses, can be achieved if the EU maintains its leadership the negotiations and its commitment to at least 30% or more greenhouse gas reductions by 2020 from 1990 emission levels. Please see Annex I for more information.

2. Promote equitable funding mechanisms and support for climate change mitigation and adaptation

Ensure that the Europe is committed to fighting climate change in the EU and externally by securing accessible, predictable, binding funding mechanisms, in addition to Overseas Development Assistance. These funding mechanisms should include i) reducing the health sector’s greenhouse gas emissions ii) supporting programmes that protect public health from climate change-related threats iii) assisting the most affected and vulnerable communities around the world fight and cope with climate change. The health sector is already working to reduce its carbon footprint. Our recently released joint-WHO discussion report provides case studies of what some hospitals are already doing. Please see Annex II for more information.

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 (HCWH E)

Contact: Pendo Maro PhD, Joint Senior Climate Change and Energy Advisor, Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) and Health Care Without Harm Europe (HCWHE), 28 Boulevard Charlemagne, 1000-Brussels, Belgium. Tel: +32 2 234 4647. E-mail:

Health Care Without Harm is a global network of more than 480 organisations in more than 50 countries, working to transform the health care sector so it is no longer a source of harm to people and the environment. Website:

The Health and Environment Alliance aims to raise awareness of how environmental protection improves health. It brings together more than 60 organisations working at the European level. Website: www.envhealth. org


-* Annex I

If the European Union increased its target greenhouse gas emission reductions from the present 20% to 30%, the total savings from death and ill-health due to respiratory conditions alone could reach an additional 25 billion Euros per year by 2020. Fewer emissions result in cleaner air, fewer premature deaths among people with existing respiratory problems, 5,300 fewer cases of bronchitis, and 2,800 fewer hospital admissions each year. See report from HEAL, CAN Europe and WWF entitled “The co-benefits to health of a strong EU climate change policy". Please find enclosed a short summary of this report.

The full report is available here: benefits_to_health_report_- september_2008.pdf.

-* Annex II

Funding for health projects is very low. In April 2009, Dr Roberto Bertollini, Senior Advisor and Coordinator, Public Health and Environment Department, World Health Organization told a meeting of health and environment ministers from 53 European countries that although 32 of the world’s 38 poorest countries identified health in their national action plans on climate change, funding for health has received only less than 1% of allocations under the climate change framework.

"Climate Change and Health: The Global Perspective" presentation by Dr Roberto Bertollini, Senior Advisor and Coordinator, Public Health and Environment Department, World Health Organization, Geneva (copy available on request from Diana Smith, or +33 6 33 04 2943).

The health sector is already working to reduce its carbon footprint. A recently released WHO-HCWH-HEAL report provides case studies of what hospitals are doing. The report: "Healthy Hospitals, Healthy Planet, Healthy People: Addressing climate change in health care settings", Discussion Draft is available at or Please find copy attached.

-* Annex III

Please find attached: European Lung Foundation’s Climate and Lung health fact sheet

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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