UN Climate Summit Agenda Updated Amidst Fears for New Burdens on Health System

COP28 will be held in Dubai this November. For the first time, UN Climate Summit agenda will address health and wellbeing issues linked to the climate emergency.  

“We will be the first COP to dedicate a day to health and the first to host a health and climate ministerial. And we need to broaden our definition of adaptation to enable global climate resilience, transform food systems and enhance forestry land use and water management,” said Sultan Al Jaber, the Cop28 President.  

The primary concern is for health systems that are already struggling to provide adequate resources. The increasing prevalence of actual and projected unprecedented weather events (heat waves, floods, droughts) are already starting to cause observable impacts to health – particularly in relation to rising temperatures.  

COP28 will also be the first time Paris agreement progress will be formally assessed. What is being called a ‘global stocktake’ will take place between the ministers to demonstrate which countries are falling behind their promises to reduce greenhouse gases to limit the rising global temperature to 1.5C.  

“The global stocktake is the chance to get new decisions taken by ministers on global targets, renewable energy acceleration, and the transition out of fossil fuels,” said Alex Scott, E3G Thinktank.  

 “The most recent IPCC report has already made it crystal clear that we are way off track. This is a moment of clarity that we must face with total honesty. We are already seeing the impacts, from rising sea levels to failed harvests, to food, water and energy insecurity. Everyone is affected and the most vulnerable communities, across the global south, who have done the least to cause climate change, are the most affected.”, said Al Jaber. 

Despite publicly affirming this position, Al Jaber has received widespread criticism, with many speculating on his conflicting commercial interests. Al Jaber is Chief Executive of Adnoc, one of the world’s largest national oil companies, which has ‘massive expansion of fossil fuel production’ (drilling) plans, reported the Guardian last month. 

A tension point in current climate discourse between world leaders is the failure of wealthy nations to deliver on their pledge of $100bn/year in climate funding to developing nations.  

Neglect of this duty is “holding up progress”, said Al Jaber.  

 “Unless equity and justice are put at the heart of a deal on a fossil fuel phase-out, we will not see any traction because we know who caused the problem. We know who has the biggest responsibility, and this is where rich countries have to play their role, and a just transition cannot be a conversation on the margins of climate action” said Harjeet Singh, Head of Global Political Strategy at Climate Action Network.  

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