GHI, Nelson support Global Climate and Health Summit at COP 25

Photo shows a building with floodwaters reaching up it and the words I don't believe in global warming ont he side.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Global Health Institute (GHI) and Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies are key supporters of the Global Climate and Health Summit taking place Saturday, December 7, at United Nations COP 25 climate change conference in Madrid.

The one-day summit, convened by the Global Climate and Health Alliance (GCHA) in collaboration with the World Health Organization and Spain’s Ministry of Health, will call on world leaders and stakeholders to protect health from a changing global climate. Participants will call for health to be an integral component of the negotiations that will be carried out during COP 25 (the United Nations Conference of the Parties), an international meeting to take stock of progress on limiting climate change and define a path forward. The summit meeting will be live-streamed. The  full schedule is available on the GCHA website.

Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes and Jonathan Patz, director of the Global Health Institute and the John P. Holton Chair for Health and the Environment, join an international slate of presenters for the day.

  • Barnes joins Enrique Alfaro Ramirez, governor of Jalisco, Mexico, and Esperanza Caro Gomez, general director of sustainable development for Sevilla, Spain, to discuss state and local leadership for climate and health in an urbanizing world.
  • Patz joins representatives from California, India, Argentina and Spain to discuss healthy people in healthy places.

“This particular COP meeting is critical for setting the path prior to the first revision of national commitments on carbon emission reductions due out in 2020,” Patz says. “The human health rationale for rapid climate action continues to rise in priority, at the same time as prices for clean renewable energy are dropping like a stone. There’s absolutely no reason whatsoever to delay broad scale adoption of clean energy solutions to both promote global health and stabilize the earth’s climate.”

The Paris agreement, signed by nearly 200 nations at COP 21 in 2015, seeks to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celius above pre-industrial levels by setting goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The United States was key to the agreement that President Donald Trump now seeks to exit. In opening this year’s climate conference, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said “the point of no return is no longer over the horizon. It is in sight and hurtling toward us.”

The Global Climate and Health Summit organizers see policy responses to climate change as an unprecedented opportunity for public health. Reducing air pollution and carbon emissions and encouraging active transportation such as walking and bicycling will save lives and reduce illness.

“UW-Madison’s presence at the summit underlines the importance of this issue to our campus and our state and shows that we’re taking a leadership position in this complex crisis of our times,” Patz says.

The summit aims to:

  • Highlight this moment as a critical turning point in global action on climate change, showing it as an urgent global health issue
  • Increase awareness among delegates of the role health practitioners and advocates in civil society are playing and can play, to support increased national and global ambition to reduce emissions  and protect health
  • Facilitate the exchange of knowledge and best practice in protecting and promoting health in the face of climate change
  • Build and strengthen collaboration across health organizations and between sectors globally, seeking to increase capacity for a global response to climate change and its impacts on health

By Ann Grauvogl/ December 4, 2019