COP26: Health minister Gillian Keegan gives closing remarks at Climate Action for Health Event

Gillian Keegan delivered the closing remarks at the Climate Action for Health Event at COP26, on Science and Innovation day.

Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 1:43 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 2:10 pm

Chichester's MP was at the Climate Action for Health Event at COP26 in Glasgow, and announced that the National Institute for Health Research is developing a new package of sustainability funding, including £20million of funding for research to develop new evidence to improve the health outcomes of those most impacted by climate change in developing countries.

Mrs Keegan highlighted the importance of nations working together to look at the urgent threat of climate change and how our health systems could be having a negative impact on the planet.

NHS travel and transport in England make up 3.5 per cent of all road traffic, at the conference the world’s first hydrogen electric zero emission ambulance was showcase as an alternative to its fuel counterparts.

She said: "There really is no time to spare. One of the greatest successes of the pandemic was the way that nations worked together at rapid pace to pool our knowledge and our expertise. Like sharing data from vaccine clinical trials, setting up databases for genomic sequencing. Now, we need to draw on this same spirit, for the equally urgent threat of climate change.

"In recent months, our health systems have been at the forefront of one of the battles of our times. Now, we must make sure they are at the forefront of another. As our nations recover and rebuild from this pandemic, let us seize the opportunity that Glasgow has given us. For our health, for our planet, and for our future generations."

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The event brought together a wide range of key people in public health and climate change policy in order to incorporate public health and climate justice considerations in the UN climate negotiations, and called for a healthy, green and resilient COVID-19 recovery.

Health Minister at Climate Action for Health Event

In her closing speech Mrs Keegan thanked everyone who joined the event in Glasgow.

She said: "And this is a conference where health is very much on the agenda.

"There was a time when people might have wondered what a health minister was doing at a summit about climate change.

"But those days are gone. There is now widespread recognition including here of course in the room today that climate change isn’t just an environmental emergency.

Chichester's MP Gillian Keegan

"It’s a global health emergency too."

She went on to highlight statistics from the UN that claims climate change is expected to cause about 250,000 extra deaths a year between 2030 and 2050.

Mrs Keegan also referenced the impact climate change has on supply chains and the damage it can cause to infrastructure.

She said: "And it’s not just a threat to our health, but a threat to our health systems too. Health systems around the world are already seeing the impact of climate change on the frontline.

"Such as greater demand for health services due to reducing crop production, to water insecurity and natural disasters.

"So it’s vital that we build up resilience to climate change within our health systems allowing them to anticipate and respond to any climate related shocks, like disruption to supply chains and damage to infrastructure.

"But most of all, we need to make sure that our health systems themselves are not part of the problem.

"And we’ve heard today, health systems currently contribute around 4 to 5 per cent of global carbon emissions.

"If they were a country, they would be the fifth largest emitter."

At the conference representatives from over 100 nations, which make up over three quarters of the world’s health professionals, signed the Healthy Climate Prescription demanding more action to address the climate crisis.