COP28 Stocktake Issue #3
Realising the Potential for COP28 to Become the 'Health COP'
Health and climate change linkages gained unprecedented attention at COP28 with over 134 countries signing the UAE Declaration on Climate and Health. This landmark declaration represents the first acknowledgement from governments on the growing health impacts of climate change and the substantial health benefits of climate action like reducing air pollution.
New financial commitments on climate and health solutions exceeded $1 billion from stakeholders including governments, banks, institutions, philanthropies, and NGOs. This signals strong momentum.
However, for COP28 to truly make history as the 'Health COP', governments must sustain the focus on health throughout the negotiations. In particular, health considerations should be incorporated into key issues like the Global Goal on Adaptation, loss and damage funding, the global stocktake, addressing health equity for vulnerable groups, and fossil fuel phase-out.
At today's COP28 conference, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust jointly announced a new partnership between their policy institutes to address the impacts of climate change on public health, with a focus on the approximately 3.3 billion vulnerable people worldwide. Through research and talent development, the collaboration aims to strengthen the climate resilience of global public health systems. While the initiative is global in scope, we hope the Jockey Club will also boost understanding and preparedness regarding the effects of climate change on public health in Hong Kong. Additionally, we urge the government to incorporate considerations of climate impacts into public health policies, responding to the calls made in the declaration above.
Turning the rhetoric into reality will require concrete action and policies that protect public health, ramp up financing to help developing countries address climate impacts, and make health metrics central in measuring progress on climate goals.
COP28 has made an unprecedented start in spotlighting health and climate linkages. Realising the full potential to become the 'Health COP' depends on governments following through by putting health at the centre of ambitious climate commitments, policies and support for developing countries.