Call for emergency action to limit global temperature increases, restore biodiversity, and protect health

Elsevier, The Lancet, Volume 398, 11 September 2021
Authors: 
Atwoli L., Baqui A.H., Benfield T., Bosurgi R., Godlee F., Hancocks S. et al.

The UN General Assembly in September, 2021, will bring countries together at a critical time for marshalling collective action to tackle the global environmental crisis. They will meet again at the biodiversity summit in Kunming, China, and the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, UK. Ahead of these pivotal meetings, we—the editors of health journals worldwide—call for urgent action to keep average global temperature increases below 1·5°C, halt the destruction of nature, and protect health.

Health is already being harmed by global temperature increases and the destruction of the natural world, a state of affairs health professionals have been bringing attention to for decades.1 The science is unequivocal; a global increase of 1·5°C above the pre-industrial average and the continued loss of biodiversity risk catastrophic harm to health that will be impossible to reverse.2, 3 Despite the world's necessary preoccupation with COVID-19, we cannot wait for the pandemic to pass to rapidly reduce emissions.

Reflecting the severity of the moment, this Comment appears in health journals across the world. We are united in recognising that only fundamental and equitable changes to societies will reverse our current trajectory.