Climate Change and Human Development

I think Alma-ata and primary health care are critical to resolve this. As well as mapping health needs and taking action, energy, food and transport also need to be mapped and appropriate actions taken.

Page 1154, 5 October 2013 Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd All rights reserved.

Bringing action on climate and human development together

“Warming of the climate system is unequivocal”. This statement opens the conclusions from Working Group 1 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose report was published last week. The group continues: “The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased.” That human influence has been the dominant cause of climate warming since the mid-20th century is deemed “extremely likely”. If our societies continue to emit greenhouse gases, further warming will occur, although it will not be uniform across all regions and it will exhibit variability from year-to-year and from decade-to-decade.

If these shifts in climate are to be avoided, the Working Group argues that we will have to take active decisions to reduce substantially and sustainably greenhouse-gas emissions. The mechanism by which these decisions will be made is called COP—the Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. In December, 2015, in Paris, climate negotiators will finalise an agreement to launch a process between 2015 and 2020 to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. 2015 is also the year when the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will end, ushering in a new era focused on sustainable development. Agreement on the goals and targets for the post-MDG period will be made at the UN General Assembly.

Why are these two negotiations, both of which are of incalculable importance to the survival of life on our planet, being conducted separately? There can be no sustainable development without targets on climate change being incorporated into the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). But equally, our understanding of why it is so important to act on climate change cannot be fully taken account of unless we understand the human context and consequences of climate phenomena. 2015 should be the moment when the COP and SDG deliberations merge. It is time to take an integrated view—politically, as well as scientifically—of the future health of our planet and its people.”

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