In 2020, COVID-19 made it clear that health, economies, societies, and security are all linked. As the climate crisis deteriorates, we can no longer remain oblivious.
The theme for #worldhealthday, recognised globally on 7 April 2023, is Health for All.1 Let this day be a reminder that 30% of the world’s population does not have access to necessary health services.2
The biggest humanitarian crisis.
Despite progress in the average citizen’s health over the years, our planet’s life support has only been worsening – risking public health. Climate-related disasters are responsible for disrupting livelihoods and threatening public well-being.
Anthropogenic changes affect the air we breathe, the food we eat and produce, the water we drink, our exposure to infectious diseases, and even the places where we live.
Multiple studies have found a high mortality rate from climate change. With the extremities in hot and cold temperatures becoming increasingly common, it accounts for 5 million deaths globally each year.3
Household air pollution is associated with 7 million premature deaths annually.4
World Health Organisation (WHO) figures estimate that about 12.6 million people die yearly from living or working in unhealthy environments.5
These statistics only stress that combined climate action can no longer wait. While governments have started the race to net zero, most often overlook the direct link to public health. Acting upon these challenges needs massive interdisciplinary collaboration across nations to safeguard health.
Reduce emissions, save lives.
A GeoHealth study stated that particulate matter and ozone caused more than 2.2 million premature deaths yearly in G20 countries, comprising the biggest economies.
Reducing emissions from power plants in G20 alone could reduce the death toll by 300,000 lives by 2040.6
The study also highlights that reaching net zero must be a combined effort because air pollution knows no borders. Due to wind patterns and geographic location, people can be exposed to air pollution in countries where it didn’t even originate.
How can businesses help?
Every organisation in the world, no matter the industry, has a crucial role to play. Their existing environmental and social strategies are likely already generating health benefits.
For instance, promoting green buildings doesn’t just offer human health benefits from better indoor air quality and access to green spaces but also saves costs from reduced energy and lowering emissions.
Organisations must encourage better building design and maintenance, critical to a healthier built environment that emits zero carbon, cuts costs and improves air quality.
To do this efficiently, businesses should embrace technology like machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoT) etc. Retrofit existing buildings with energy-efficient devices that help reach net zero while reducing waste.
The benefits of technologies like Ecolibrium’s SmartSense™ go beyond Carbon Net Zero. Implementing such systems with real-time data can secure the building’s comfort levels – air quality, light, temperature, humidity, and noise. Thus, ensuring ESG goals and maintaining a harmonious balance between people, the planet and profit.
To safeguard people and the planet’s health, nations must foster more cross-sectoral collaborations transcending borders. Only then can we all reduce health inequalities and make #HealthForAll possible while progressing towards net zero.
1Editorial Staff. 2023, World Health Day: Health for All. WHO [online]. https://www.who.int/news-room/events/detail/2023/04/07/default-calendar/world-health-day-2023-health-for-all
2Editorial Staff. 2023, Key Messages. WHO [online] https://www.who.int/campaigns/75-years-of-improving-public-health/key-messages
3Millan, L. 2021, Climate Change Linked to 5 Million Deaths a Year, New Study Shows. Bloomberg [online] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-07-07/climate-change-linked-to-5-million-deaths-a-year-new-study-shows#xj4y7vzkg
4Editorial Staff. Air pollution. WHO [online] https://www.who.int/health-topics/air-pollution#tab=tab_1
5Editorial Staff. 2016, An estimated 12.6 million deaths each year are attributable to unhealthy environments. WHO [online] https://www.who.int/news/item/15-03-2016-an-estimated-12-6-million-deaths-each-year-are-attributable-to-unhealthy-environments#:~:text=An%20estimated%2012.6%20million%20deaths%20each%20year%20are%20attributable%20to%20unhealthy%20environments,-15%20March%202016
6Steinke, K. 2023. The Global Health Benefits of Going Net Zero. EOS [online]. https://eos.org/research-spotlights/the-global-health-benefits-of-going-net-zero