As the leaders meet at COP26 to unite the world to tackle our collective climate crisis, the US Congress is deciding how to invest in climate polices that will protect the future health of our families and planet. The annual Lancet Countdown Report coincides with COP26 as it tracks the intersection of health and climate change.
This year the report emphasizes three climate change health threats that Moms Clean Air Force members are keenly aware of: heat waves, wildfires, and drought. We are already living with the “unabated rise” in life-threatening heat, wildfire smoke-related illnesses, and threats to food and water due to severe drought.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it: the Lancet report news is bleak. “People in every region of the world are increasingly seeing their health affected by climate change. Key trends seen in previous Lancet Countdown Reports are getting worse and exacerbating already existing health and social inequities—the 2021 report gives a code red for health.”
Our world has been thrown off course by climate change. Here are the Lancet Countdown Report‘s key findings:
- Every region of the world is affected by climate change.
- The health impacts are getting worse. More frequent and more intense extremes of heat are harming people’s health in rich and poor countries.
- 72% of countries saw an increase in human exposure to wildfires.
- 19% of the global land surface was affected by extreme drought in any given month. This puts people in danger of food and water insecurity.
- The most vulnerable people are the worst affected, and climate change is already exacerbating inequities.
- With current commitments putting the world on track to 2.4°C of warming, the cost of inaction on climate and health will vastly outweigh the costs of acting now.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the need for increased international co-operation in the face of global crises.
The Lancet Countdown Report offers a sliver of hope, but only if the world acts together to ensure that no person is left behind. “Decision-makers must act today and show strong leadership. A better future is still possible.”
Our children deserve a world that is clean, healthy, and safe. Will the US restore our credibility and firmly establish a position of leadership at COP26, while recognizing this crucial political moment and acting to give US residents the strongest legislation to invest in climate policies?
We have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to change a dangerous course of inaction and secure a healthier future for our children. Parents are counting on our elected officials to seize this opportunity to invest in making the climate safer for our children and future generations.
As former President Barack Obama said today to world leaders at COP26, “I believe we can secure our future. We have to. And what a profound and noble task we have set for ourselves.”