In its response to the EU consultation on how to adapt to the climate crisis, the European Public Health Alliance has called for the development of a comprehensive approach to tackle its effects.
It is well known that climate, health and biodiversity are strongly interlinked, and that “any increase in global temperature is projected to affect human health, with primarily negative consequences” – therefore tackling the climate crisis and improving air quality in Europe could unlock benefits for both our environment and our health.
Ambitious climate targets go hand in hand with lowering health-harmful substances emissions and thus decreasing the indirect health impacts of the climate crisis. Europe needs to take good sustainable actions and phase out the sale of diesel and petrol cars by 2028 if it wants to meet its commitments to the Paris Climate Agreement.
To contribute to mitigating the negative public health impacts of the climate crisis, the the European Commission should :
- Recognise that the climate crisis has a negative impact on human health and biodiversity, which will endanger the well-being and the future of new generations;
- Acknowledge that immediate and concerted actions, engaging diverse policy areas and actors across society in enabling systemic change.
Furthermore the EU strategy must:
- Include a climate impact assessment in all future EU policies, including health and well-being impacts;
- Include a calculation on how much the initiative will contribute to preventing cancer;
- Add a legally binding target for Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emission reductions from agriculture (the global food system is responsible for up to 30% of anthropogenic GHG emissions);
- Commit to mobilise its resources to invest in walking, cycling and improve public transport infrastructures;
- Explore and support the legal, financial, coordination or promotion tools for the development of green policies;
- Aim to end all sales of conventional fossil fuel-powered cars by 2028 and phase out all petrol and diesel cars by 2045.
With health at the heart of policy-making, the new strategy has the potential to improve all our lives, and those of future generations.