Experts call for climate action after heat waves

2022-07-22 08:32:28China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Chinese experts have called for more investment and adaptive measures to mitigate the health risks caused by climate change, as recent extreme heat waves have caused rising deaths globally.

Huang Cunrui, professor from Tsinghua University's Vanke School of Public Health, told a forum in Beijing on Wednesday that adaptation and mitigation are necessary to protect people's health from climate-related risks.

However, current funding for adapting to climate change in the health sector accounts for very little among climate finance projects, he said.

"Net benefits from well-protected health such as a reduction in hospitalizations, morbidity and premature deaths, can outweigh the economic costs of mitigation measures," he said.

"Climate change is expected to significantly increase people's exposure to heat waves globally. That will cause malnutrition and even child mortality especially in Africa and Asia due to water security problems and reduced food productivity as a result of droughts, floods and loss of soil nutrition," he said.

Climate change has also increased the risk of getting infectious diseases in many parts of the world and displaces more than 20 million people each year due to severe floods and storms with the hardest-hit region being Asia.

A heatstroke monitor by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Health Emergency Center showed that for the first six months of this year, the number of people who had heat stroke increased by 42.2 percent compared with the average level of the previous two years.

Elsewhere, Japanese fire services' data released in early July said that more than 10,000 people went to hospital for heatstroke treatment in June, the highest since 2010, causing dozens of deaths.

China's National Climate Center data showed that the last 50 years have been the warmest in the past 2,000 years. The global surface temperature between 2011 and 2020 increased by 1.09 C compared with the pre-industrialized era. Almost all of the warming, 1.07 C, was caused by human activities.

To counter the impact, Huang said a sustainable and climate-resilient development path should be adopted to increase adaptation and mitigation.

The path includes clean energy and green transport, better urban planning, healthier food systems, universal health coverage and enhanced infrastructure, he said.

Gao Jian, deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission's department of international cooperation, told the forum that under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that came into force in 1994, developed countries need to provide developing ones with financial and technical support in climate actions based on their historical responsibilities.

"The convention put forward the principle of the common but differentiated responsibilities of countries to take action. And developed countries should continue to take the lead in achieving their emission reduction targets while developing ones continue to solve climate change according to their national conditions.

"China attaches great importance to keeping its promises, which has been recognized by the international community. And the country's influence and voice will continue to increase," he said.


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