At The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change launch at Ryan Institute, NUI Galway. Left to right: Dr Diarmuid O’Donovan, Dr Christine Domegan, Professor Paul Wilkinson and Professor Charles Spillane. Photo: NUI Galway
Nov 06 2017 Posted: 11:24 GMT

New research published in The Lancet medical journal this week shows that climate change is already a significant public health issue and a looming global health emergency. Professor Paul Wilkinson of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, one of the authors of ‘The Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change’ report, will tell an audience in NUI Galway today about the various ways climate change is already affecting the health of people across the planet today. The report builds on the work of the 2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change, which concluded that anthropogenic (produced by human activity) climate change now threatens to undermine the last 50 years of gains in public health.

The organiser of the Irish launch of the Lancet Countdown 2017 report, Dr Diarmuid O’Donovan from the School of Medicine at NUI Galway and the Ryan Institute Centre for Health from Environment, said: “Climate change is already a huge issue for millions of people and we are beginning to feel the health effects in Ireland. We need urgent action to improve our health and prevent loss of life globally and locally.”

Leading doctors, academics and policy professionals from 26 partner organisations have contributed analysis and jointly authored the Lancet report. The authors are clear the necessary response to climate change still provides an opportunity to realise substantial gains in public health. The potential benefits and opportunities are staggering, including cleaning-up the air of polluted cities, delivering more nutritious diets, ensuring energy, food and water security, and alleviating poverty, alongside social and economic inequalities.

Professor Charles Spillane, Director of the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, said: “For the next two weeks the world’s governments will meet at the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP23 inter-governmental meeting in Bonn this year to advance climate action following the 2015 Paris Agreement, on the topic of climate change impacts on global health. The Lancet Countdown report provides the evidence that policymakers need to act on, to accelerate action in all countries to reduce emissions and improve public health, while strengthening the resilience of the world’s most vulnerable communities to adverse impacts of climate change. All societies need to rapidly step onto low-carbon pathways based on clean energy and sustainable diets, to ensure that public health gains are maintained and improved over the decades ahead.”

The Chair of the Lancet Countdown’s High-Level Advisory Board, Christiana Figueres, highlighted that: “Tackling climate change directly, unequivocally and immediately improves global health. It’s as simple as that.”

For more information about Lancet Countdown, visit: http://www.lancetcountdown.org/

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