“A code red for humanity”. With such words United Nations Secretary-General António Gutierrez introduced the 2021 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group I, examining the physical science underpinning the climate crisis. Just a few months later, the World Health Organization defined climate change as the “single biggest health threat facing humanity”.
Such alarming statements are justified. According to the latest report by the IPCC, under current unconditional pledges and a “business as usual” line of action, global temperatures are expected to rise by 1.5 °C between 2030 and 2050. The consequences of such scenarios are ruinous: up to a third of the world population will suffer from more recurrent, more severe heatwaves; more than five billion people are expected to have an inadequate water supply in the next three decades; a third of the world food production will be at risk by the end of the century; nearly one in ten vertebrate animals will lose half their habitats. Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250.000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea, and heat stress. Despite such dreary perspectives, investments in coal, oil, and gas have grown in recent years. Faced with these epochal challenges, leaders of the world have an unprecedented responsibility and opportunity to work towards delivering a future of improved health, decreased inequities, and economic and environmental sustainability.
>At the 17th World Congress on Public Health, an entire plenary session will be dedicated to Planetary Health and Public Health. It will be a precious forum to strengthen networks among public health professionals from across the globe and to advance advocacy on the climate emergency.