The next UN climate conference will be the first to “dedicate a day to health” to highlight the consequences of the climate crisis on wellbeing
COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber said it will be the first COP conference to “host a health and climate ministerial” as the stark report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released in March “made it crystal clear that we are way off track”.
Climate change not only causes environmental consequences such as heatwaves, floods and droughts, but there are also consequences on the health of the population.
Doctors will be faced with the increased stress on patients from rising temperatures and higher temperatures will allow for the increased spread of disease vectors such as mosquitoes.
Ahead of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow more than 400 international health organisations and professionals signed an open letter calling on politicians to consider the health benefits of climate action.
Al Jaber said: “We need to broaden our definition of adaptation to enable global climate resilience, transform food systems and enhance forestry land use and water management.”
Ministers from around the world are gathered in Berlin this week for the Petersberg Climate Dialogue, an annual meeting on climate held by the German government.
Al Jaber addressed the conference, vowing to use COP28 to fulfil the goals of the 2015 Paris agreement. At the conference in Dubai this November countries will for the first time formally assess progress since Paris.
Al Jaber told ministers: “The most recent IPCC report has already made it crystal clear that we are way off track. This is a moment of clarity that we must face with total honesty.
“We are already seeing the impacts, from rising sea levels to failed harvests, to food, water and energy insecurity. Everyone is affected and the most vulnerable communities, across the global south, who have done the least to cause climate change, are the most affected.”
Al Jaber being selected as the president of COP28 caused much criticism as he is the chief executive of the UAE national oil company, Adnoc - one of the world’s biggest national oil companies. He is also the founder of the Masdar renewable energy company, and minister of advanced technology for the UAE.
But GreenPeace UK told NationalWorld it is “alarmed” at the appointment of an oil company CEO to lead the global climate negotiations. Tracy Carty, Global Climate Politics at Greenpeace International, said it “sets a dangerous precedent, risking the credibility of the UAE” and “there is no place for the fossil fuel industry in the global climate negotiations.”
Yamide Dagnet, director at Open Society Foundations, said the appointment is “provocative and holds risk” but the “reputational stakes are real” and she believes the country “will want to shine from this challenge.”
She added: “We need to propose a solution and not just look at the risk. It is going to be tough but that needs to be the way forward.”