COP28: climate crisis is a health crisis, say scientific and health-focused organisations and experts

The European Respiratory Society (ERS) and the European Lung Foundation (ELF) have led a group of more than 60 medical, public health and scientific societies, patient representative organisations and experts in a call for decision makers at the 28th Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP28) to prioritise action to mitigate but also adapt to the health effects of climate change, to prepare societies and communities for a ‘much more complex future’.

The organisations have called for comprehensive action in a joint statement initiated by ERS and ELF and published ahead of COP28.

The statement stresses that climate change is a global threat requiring immediate action, while also outlining to governments worldwide that it also presents a significant public health policy opportunity for those prepared to act.

Climate change has an ever-increasing impact on health. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • By 2050, climate change is expected to cause at least 250,000 deaths every year.
  • As well as direct impacts derived from extreme weather events, climate change carries indirect impact through changes in aeroallergen exposure patterns, air quality, wildfires, and transmissibility of vector- and water-borne diseases.
  • Due to worsening air quality and increasing temperatures, climate change exacerbates respiratory health conditions such as asthma and COPD.
  • Climate change disproportionately affects vulnerable and marginalised communities and exacerbates existing health disparities.