General News of Saturday, 8 December 2018
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged the world to embrace clean, low carbon and non-polluting sources of energy to reduce global pollution, which is having a heavy toll on peoples’ health.
Dr Diarmid Cambell-Lendrum, the Coordinator of Climate Change and Health, World Health Organisation, said about three billion people still used highly polluting fuel sources to cook and to heat their houses.
“Our estimates are that the burden of that in terms of respiratory infections, in terms of lung diseases, cardiovascular diseases, heart attacks and stroke and so on, kills about 3.8 million people a year around the world,” he said. “That is as big as pretty much any other risk factor that we have for global health.”
Dr Cambelll-Lendrum said this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Katowice on the side-lines of the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) underway in Poland.
He said: “Anything that we can do to provide clean cooking and heating technology to the poorest part of the population is probably as effective as any health intervention you can think of.”
“Solar cook is one part of the solution but the objective is just to get clean, low carbon, non-polluting sources of energy to the people. So we are not in the business of saying use this technology or don’t use this technology.”
“All we say is to pick and support those technologies, which don’t pollute the air or don’t pollute the climate. If we are able to do that with the solar cooker and the solar panels, which are able to provide electricity for electrical cooking, then that will be good for our health and good for the environment,” Dr Cambell-Lendrum noted.
He said world leaders should get out of the business of providing subsidies to polluting sources of fuel and instead subsidise sources of clean energy technology, which was good for health and the climate.
He explained that cooking on an open fire in an unventilated house was basically the same as one who smokes a cigarette and inhales the particles, which then enters the lungs and cause damages.
With such cooking, the burning released particles into the air and then breathed in and later caused damage to the circulatory system, he said.
Dr Cambell-Lendrum, therefore, cautioned people not to breath in particles released from combustion adding, however, that this could only be avoided when one adopts clean sources of energy.
He said when such combustible fuels were burned it produced black carbons that killed people and warmed the atmosphere.
The WHO-COP24 Special Report, launched on the side-lines of the Conference, calls on countries to account for health within a cost-benefit analysis of climate change mitigation.
It also recommended that countries use fiscal incentives such as carbon pricing and energy subsidies to motivate sectors to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants.
The Report further encourages Parties to the UNFCCC to remove barriers to support climate-resilient health systems. COP24, which enters its second and final week on Monday, December 10, is on the theme: “Changing Together.”
More than 20,000 delegates and world leaders from 190 countries are attending and they are expected to come out with a rule-book that would enable countries to implement the Paris Agreement.