The first of the five panels of Dialogues that will take place this year, “The impact of climate change on health public policies and the international context” , updated the discussion about the connection between climate and health, and clarified the decisions that need to be taken today in order to guarantee healthy living for everybody, people and the environment. The event was attended by Andreia Banhe (CDP Latin America), Christovam Barcellos (Fiocruz Climate and Health Observatory) and Laura Jung (German Alliance on Climate Change and Health). It was mediated by Marina Marçal, the coordinator of the iCS Climate Policy portfolio.
During the discussion, CDP published the report Climate Change and Urban Health – Impacts and opportunities for Brazilian cities . The data is alarming, such as an estimated cost of US$ 1.7 billion annually due to premature deaths from air pollution in 29 Brazilian capitals, in addition to 2,500 hospitalizations per month for children in the Amazon region as result of the pollution from forest fires. Among the reasons for investing in health and climate, the following are highlighted: investments of US$ 29.6 billion in public transport could yield net returns of US$ 223.3 billion (the sector has 45% of the potential to reduce CO2); a study in the United States shows that for every dollar invested in improvements in the conditions of the air, 32 dollars are saved in social costs and in health.
Christovam Barcellos, from FIOCRUZ, presented an original study in partnership with the WWF that warns about the geographic expansion of the drought in the country. “The news here in Brazil is not good. The research institutions and, at the same time, the environmental control agencies are bare. We need to establish a consensus and invest in research. However, the positive aspect is that the credibility of science is increasing with the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said. This study shows that 60% of the Particulate Matter (PM) inhaled in Brazil comes from fires in the Amazon forest – this chronic exposure to smoke, in fact, makes those people who are the most vulnerable to Covid-19 have the most serious forms of the infection.
Germany, in turn, published a bill in May that seeks the reduction of emissions by 65% by 2030, heading towards carbon neutrality in 2045.
A debate on climate and health could not ignore Covid-19. There is a consensus that a preventive effort to control zoonoses is indispensable, from any perspective – the costs associated with the preventive efforts would be substantially lower when compared to the economic, social and health costs of controlling potential future pandemics or epidemics.