Madison Committee on Foreign Relations: Human Health – the Greatest Beneficiary From Climate Change Policy

Join the Madison Committee on Foreign Relations as Jonathan Patz presents Human Health – the Greatest Beneficiary from Climate Change Policy.

Registration for this event is required.

In December, world leaders convened in Paris for the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP) on climate change to negotiate binding commitments on greenhouse gas reductions.  But are the trade-offs of those actions fully understood?  Are the costs and benefits from a low-carbon economy fully accounted for to inform the policy process?

The global climate crisis poses many risks to human health: from heat waves, famines, and weather-sensitive infectious diseases, to extreme storms, sea level rise and infrastructure collapse. Yet, climate change mitigation policies could potentially have enormous public health benefits stemming from improved air quality and active transport that promotes physical fitness.  These represent the silver lining or “co-benefits” of action to confront today’s global climate crisis.  In short, climate change presents large human health risks; climate change actions, however, offer health benefits – possibly the greatest health opportunities in more than a century.

Jonathan Patz, MD, M.P.H., is director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is professor and the John P. Holton Chair in Health and the Environment with appointments in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and the Department of Population Health Sciences. For 15 years, Patz served as a lead author for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—the organization that shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore. He also co-chaired the health expert panel of the U.S. National Assessment on Climate Change, a report mandated by the U.S. Congress.

Patz has written over 90 peer-reviewed scientific papers, a textbook addressing the health effects of global environmental change and co-edited the five-volume Encyclopedia of Environmental Health (2011). He, most recently, co-edited “Climate Change and Public Health” (2015, Oxford University Press) and is leading a Massive Open Online Course “Climate Change Policy and Public Health.”