Climate Change is Harming Human Health
On February 5th, CAPE, in collaboration with the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA), the Urban Public Health Network (UPHN), and the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA), released a Call to Action on Climate Change and Health (link to English and French versions). We are calling on all national political parties in Canada to make a commitment to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees C.
Climate change is already harming the mental and physical health of Canadians with air pollution, emergency evacuations, power shortages, food insecurity, insect-borne diseases, and with floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires and heatwaves that are more frequent and more intense.
Globally, climate change is having a devastating impact on human health. The World Health Organization estimates that heat waves, insect-borne diseases, malnutrition, and infectious diseases alone will claim 250,000 lives per year by 2030.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that 2oC of warming would be catastrophic for ecological systems and human health, forcing hundreds of millions of people into poverty by 2050.
Climate Solutions can Produce Significant Health Benefits for Canadians
The burning of fossil fuels is responsible for 7,100 early deaths each year in Canada. By reducing our use of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, gasoline, diesel and natural gas, we can save lives, reduce chronic diseases, and cut healthcare costs, while fighting climate change.
Chronic diseases cost about $200 billion per year in treatment and lost-time in Canada. By investing in public transit, cycling and walking, which increase physical activity, we can save lives, reduce chronic diseases and healthcare costs, while fighting climate change.
We need to Act Fact to Prevent Catastrophic Climate Change
In 2015, Canada pledged to keep global warming well below 2oC by signing the Paris Agreement. To date, we have fallen far short of the emission reductions needed. In 2020, our emissions are projected to be 111 MT greater than Canada’s 2020 target of 620 MT. To keep global warming from exceeding 1.5oC, we must cut global emissions by 45% by 2030.
Prepared by Kim Perrotta MHSc, Executive Director, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) February 2019. Adapted and re-printed with permission