COP28 | SHOURO DASGUPTA. Health Day to prioritise the climate impacts on billions of the most vulnerable worldwide

Health impacts are among the most tangible effects of climate change: they affect billions worldwide, and they are more acutely felt by the most vulnerable parts of the population. Environmental economist at CMCC and member of the Burkina Faso delegation at COP28, Shouro Dasgupta underscores the imperative of integrating health concerns into climate policies to reduce both health impacts - especially on the most vulnerable populations - and unintended consequences of climate action.

“At last, health has become mainstream in the climate action debate and no longer a side issue, as it has often been. It is crucial to ensure that our future climate policies are health-centered,” states Shouro Dasgupta, an environmental economist at CMCC, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, and Visiting Senior Fellow at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). He is participating in COP28 in Dubai as a member of the Burkina Faso delegation, with the role of ensuring that science informs policy decisions.

“For the first time in a COP, we have a dedicated Health Day at COP28 in Dubai this year. Health impacts are among the most tangible effects of climate change. They affect billions worldwide, and they are more acutely felt by the most vulnerable parts of the population: the elderly, the young, those with relatively low incomes, those with pre-existing health conditions, and outdoor workers. Having a dedicated health day helps the climate and health research community showcase our evidence base so that policymakers can be updated on the impacts of climate change on health and use science-based information for future policy and decision-making.”

Dasgupta is a contributor to the Sixth IPCC report and the Lancet Countdown on health and climate change, scientific processes contributing substantially to climate negotiations by providing evidence-based guidance to policymakers for improving existing policies.

“At COP, we showcase the results from CMCC research on health topics and our involvement in the Lancet Countdown to show the decision-makers, as well as the general public, the negative impacts of climate change on human health. This approach aims to design policies while keeping the health impacts in focus. We are presenting both the global impacts and country-level impacts that climate change is already having on human health.”

There are many reasons to prioritize health-centered themes for climate action, one being the distributional implications of climate change policies. “Also thanks to CMCC research, we know that, unless we are careful, climate change policies can have unintended consequences, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable parts of the population. Prioritizing health-centered actions ensures that these distributional implications are taken into account. Additionally, we discuss the needs and barriers and showcase best practices for strengthening climate-resilient health systems. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted that even in rich countries, public health systems are often ill-equipped to deal with such crises. We need to improve our health systems’ resilience, not just in low-income countries. Lastly, we will focus on the effectiveness of adaptation measures concerning climate change and health, aiming to ensure that the climate and health nexus is always considered in policy-making , from local to national to international levels.”

The climate and health issue is at the core of two COP28 side events with the participation of CMCC researchers: Marta Ellena and Alfredo Reder contribute to the Blue Zone event “Climate Change and Health, and the Role of Academic Institutions and Future Research Directions” on December 2nd, highlighting the link between climate change and global health action points for global governance. The event is organized by The University of Arizona, Observer Research Foundation, Società Italiana per le Scienze del Clima and University of California. On December 8th, Shoro Dasgupta is taking part in the event “Focus on co-benefits: designing health and food-system policies in a changing climate”, organized by the Ministry of Environment, Green Economy and Climate Change of Burkina Faso and Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in the Burkina Faso COP28 Pavilion. 

“Our side event at the Burkina Faso Pavilion focuses on co-benefits: we show how much we stand to gain, or countries such as Burkina Faso will gain if the world as a whole achieves the Paris Agreement targets,” explains Dasgupta. “We have to remember that countries such as Burkina Faso or Bangladesh (where I am from), contribute very little to global emissions. However, they suffer from some of the highest impacts, which are felt very acutely by children and women. Based on one of our most recent publications, if we achieve the Paris Agreement targets, the negative impacts of climate change on child health and nutrition will be significantly lower. We will also focus on barriers to uptake of policies, as people may not have the ability to implement policies or adhere to them; they may need help and additional  resources.”

More on climate, health and negotiations: 

Climate and health section on CMCC Foresight magazine 

Podcast “The climate backstage at UNFCCC conferences”

Child Health Vulnerability in Burkina Faso: the impacts of Climate Change

Empowering Europe against infectious diseases: innovative framework to tackle climate-driven health risks

Warming world, widening gap: climate change’s toll on poverty and inequality in South Africa

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