COP28: climate change is a global threat requiring comprehensive action, say health experts, scientific and medical societies, public health and patient representation organisations

1st December 2023

A group of more than 60 medical, public health and scientific societies, patient representative organisations and experts have called for decision makers at the 28th Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP28) to prioritise action to mitigate and adapt to the health effects of climate change, to prepare societies and communities for a ‘much more complex future’.

The joint statement, initiated by the European Respiratory Society (ERS) and the European Lung Foundation (ELF) and published ahead of COP28, stresses that climate change is a global health threat requiring immediate action.

Collectively, the organisations also outline the significant public health policy opportunity to governments worldwide which are ‘willing to act on this global crisis’.

Climate change has an ever-increasing impact on health, particularly for individuals living with respiratory illnesses. As outlined in the statement, its effects include but are not limited to:

By 2050, climate change is expected to cause at least 250,000 deaths every year (World Health Organization)

As well as direct impacts derived from extreme weather events, climate change carries indirect impact through changes in aeroallergen exposure patterns, air quality, wildfires, and transmissibility of vector- and water-borne diseases.

Due to worsening air quality and increasing temperatures, climate change exacerbates respiratory health conditions such as asthma and COPD.

Climate change disproportionately affects vulnerable and marginalised communities and exacerbates existing health disparities.

Representing ERS at COP28 is Professor Zorana Jovanovic Andersen, ERS Environment and Health Committee Chair. Prof. Andersen said: “The climate crisis is a global health crisis; action to mitigate it and adapt to its impact must be immediate.

“Increases in frequency and severity of extreme weather events, induced by climate change, are already having devastating effects worldwide. Accelerating global warming, and poor air quality exacerbates a number of health conditions, including respiratory illnesses such as asthma or COPD; it also increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular diseases.

“However, the devastating change and impact which climate change continues to bring to our planet and to global public health also presents an opportunity. Governments, authorities and policymakers have a chance to develop public health policies and to motivate citizens, healthcare professionals, researchers and political entities.

“The opportunity is there to be taken, and the health community stands ready to support those who are willing to act on this global crisis.”

Read the full statement:

Learn more about ERS advocacy activities:

About the European Respiratory Society

ERS is one of the leading medical organisations in the respiratory field, with a growing membership of respiratory clinicians, scientists and allied healthcare professionals, spanning more than 160 countries worldwide. ERS prioritises science, education and advocacy in order to promote lung health, alleviate suffering from disease and drive standards for respiratory medicine globally.



Issued The European Respiratory Society