Fifteen global health leaders, including three from India, have demanded that fossil fuel industry interests be kept out of climate talks, their call comes ahead of a UN climate change conference in the United Arab Emirates next month.
“Fossil fuel interests have no place in climate negotiations,” health experts said in an open letter to Sultan Al-Jaber, the president-designate for the UN climate change conference.
Al-Jaber is also a UAE minister and CEO of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.
The letter was sent on Tuesday.
The letter comes amid what some see as a conspicuous absence of any mention of fossil fuels and their health harms in a draft ministerial declaration on climate and health, which is being prepared for release at the November 30-December 12 conference.
The signatories also called on the presidency of the conference and the leaders of all countries to commit to a rapid, fair, and equitable phase-out of fossil fuels to limit global warming and protect health from the devastating effects of climate change, including extreme weather events. In addition to climate-related health impacts, they say air pollution from burning fossil fuels causes seven million premature deaths worldwide each year.
The fossil fuel industry “cannot be allowed to continue its decades-long campaign against climate action” at UN climate talks “just as the tobacco industry cannot be allowed to participate” in the World Health Organization’s tobacco control initiative, experts said. he said. “It is imperative to protect global climate cooperation from lobbying, misinformation, and stalling in favor of industry interests.”
Signatories from India include K. Srinath Reddy, former president of the Public Health Foundation of India, who played a key role in anti-tobacco initiatives, Naveek Thacker, president of the International Pediatric Association, and Arvind Kumar, a thoracic surgeon in New Delhi.
A background note attached to the letter says scientists and fossil fuel industry leaders have known about global warming for decades, but fossil fuel companies “have employed strategies to mislead the public about the science of climate change.”
The note notes that industry lobbying and political contributions have contributed to slowing political efforts to mitigate climate change at the global and national levels, and vested interests are challenging transformative change to achieve climate goals.
A draft ministerial statement on health and climate to be released at the UAE conference mentions the need to mitigate climate and health damage from air pollution, but “omits any reference to fossil fuels and their health damage,” Health Policy Watch, a global health policy platform, she stated on October 18. The language and commitments focus primarily on adapting health systems to climate change, she said, citing people familiar with the draft document.
Image Source: Telegraph India