Climate change and human health

WHO Global Programme on Climate Change & Health

WHO Global Programme on Climate Change & Health

Climate change is among the greatest health risks of the 21st Century. Rising temperatures and more extreme weather events cost lives directly, increase transmission and spread of infectious diseases, and undermine the environmental determinants of health, including clean air and water, and sufficient food.

At the same time, many of the same policy and technology choices that drive climate change, such as polluting energy sources and unsustainable transport systems, also have large immediate and local health impacts - most notably the more than seven million deaths that are caused each year by air pollution.

Addressing climate change is necessary – and is also a huge opportunity for public health. Stronger and more climate resilient health systems can save lives now, and protect from climate risks in the future. Taking health into account when choosing mitigation policies can reduce the growing burdens and financial costs of respiratory, heart and other non-communicable diseases.

Guided by a World Health Assembly Resolution and workplan endorsed by all of its Member States, WHO provides a comprehensive programme to protect health from climate risks, and to ensure that actions to mitigate climate change also protect and improve people’s health.

It provides the health dimension to the implementation of the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change, and to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.