Interview of Laurent Fabius, former president of the COP 21
QUESTION 1: The French Red Cross has decided to organize the first humanitarian-themed COP focusing on “Health and Climate Change”. What would you like to say to the humanitarians working on the front line when it comes to dealing with climate change’s impact on health and society ?
As we look towards the conference in Cannes this April, I think it’s important to emphasise just how decisive the relationship between our climate and health is.
We have, quite rightly, talked a lot about the serious threat posed by climate change, but until now we haven’t focused enough on the considerable links between climate change and people’s health. The effects of worsening climatic conditions have an impact on hundreds of millions of people right now. It is not a futuristic vision, this happening today. What will make the Red Cross’ Cannes conference so beneficial is its emphasis on the links between climate change and health.
QUESTION 2: How much importance should we place on adaptation as we try to combat climate change?
When we’re talking about climate change, we have to distinguish between two things, mitigation and adaptation. These are technical terms, but what do they mean exactly? Mitigation refers to actions we need to take to limit temperature rises. We made clear commitments to this at the 2015 COP 21 in Paris, with a whole series of actions needing to take place so that global temperatures don’t rise above industrial era levels by more than 2°C, perhaps even 1.5°C, by 2100. But there is also the absolutely crucial issue of adaptation. We can’t wait for climate change to come under our control, we have to act now through a whole series of systems – financial systems in particular – so that countries can better cope with climate change. I don’t mention finance lightly here: it’s estimated that only 0.5% of funding given over to health issues by multilateral organisations relates to adaptation, and that is nowhere near enough.
QUESTION 3: Is the public aware enough of how climate change affects human health?
People probably don’t know enough about climate change’s impact. We are always talking about melting glaciers, rising sea levels and so on, and these are all very serious. However, two issues we don’t look at enough are security and health. Security is important because, when you really think about it, climate issues are ultimately about war and peace. But health is also absolutely crucial, because hundreds of millions of people’s health is being affected, if not endangered, because up until now we haven’t considered this issue enough when making plans to combat and cope with the effects of climate change. The Cannes conference gives us a great opportunity to focus our minds and come up with action plans around the links between climate change and health. In my view, this is a vitally important initiative.
This news is related to one of the 12 themes of the World Conference on Health and Climate Change.