Call for emergency action to limit global temperature increases, restore biodiversity, and protect health- Wealthy nations must do much more, much faster


  • South African Association


biodiversity risk catastrophic


The UN General Assembly in September 2021 will bring countries together at a critical time for marshalling collective action to tackle the global environmental crisis. They will meet again at the biodiversity summit in Kunming, China, and the climate conference (COP26) in Glasgow, UK. Ahead of these pivotal meetings, we—the editors of health journals worldwide—call for urgent action to keep
average global temperature increases below 1.5°C, halt the destruction of nature, and protect health. Health is already being harmed by global temperature increases and the destruction of the natural world, a stateof affairs health professionals have been bringing attention to for decades.1 The science is unequivocal; a global increase of 1.5°C above the pre-industrial average and the continued loss of biodiversity risk catastrophic harm to health that will be impossible to reverse.2,3 Despite the world’s necessary preoccupation with covid-19, we cannot wait for the pandemic to pass to rapidly reduce emissions.


Download data is not yet available.


Metrics Loading ...


World Medical Association, International Council of Nurses, ISDE International, et al. In support of a #HealthyRecovery. May 26, 2020. (accessed Aug 17, 2021).

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Summary for policymakers. Global warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty. 2018. (accessed Aug 17, 2021).

Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. Summary for policymakers: the global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services. 2019. summary_for_policymakers_en.pdf (accessed Aug 17, 2021).

Watts N, Amann M, Arnell N, et al. The 2020 report of the Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: responding to converging crises. Lancet 2021; 397: 129–70.

Rocque RJ, Beaudoin C, Ndjaboue R, et al. Health effects of climate change: an overview of systematic reviews. BMJ Open 2021; 11: e046333.

Haines A, Ebi K. The imperative for climate action to protect health. N Engl J Med 2019; 380: 263–73.

UN Environment Programme, International Livestock Research Institute. Preventing the next pandemic: zoonotic diseases and how to break the chain of transmission. 2020. b5b2fc067f094dd3b2250cd a15c47acd.pdf (accessed Aug 17, 2021).

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Summary for policymakers. Climate change and land: an IPCC special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems. 2019. (accessed Aug 17, 2021).

Lenton TM, Rockström J, Gaffney O, et al. Climate tipping points—too risky to bet against. Nature 2019; 575: 592–95.

Wunderling N, Donges JF, Kurths J, Winkelmann R. Interacting tipping elements increase risk of climate domino effects under global warming. Earth Syst Dynam 2021; 12: 601–19.

High Ambition Coalition. 2021. (accessed Aug 17, 2021).

Global Climate and Health Alliance. Are national climate commitments enough to protect our health?https://climateand /initiatives/healthy-ndcs/ndc-scorecards/ (accessed Aug 17, 2021).

Thunberg G, Neubauer L, Charlier A, et al. Climate strikers: open letter to EU leaders on why their new climate law is “surrender”.

Carbon Brief, March 3, 2020. (accessed Aug 17, 2021).

Fajardy M, Köberle A, MacDowell N, Fantuzzi A. BECCS deployment: a reality check. Grantham Institute briefing paper 28. January, 2019. imperial-college/grantham-institute/public/publications/briefing-papers/BECCS-deployment---a-reality-check.pdf (accessed Aug 17, 2021).

Anderson K, Peters G. The trouble with negative emissions. Science 2016; 354: 182–83.

Climate action tracker. 2021. (accessed Aug 17, 2021).

Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Global biodiversity outlook 5. 2020. (accessed Aug 17, 2021).

Steffen W, Richardson K, Rockström J, et al. Planetary boundaries: guiding human development on a changing planet. Science 2015; 347: 1259855.

UK Health Alliance. Our calls for action. 2021. (accessed Aug 17, 2021).

Climate Action Tracker. Warming projections global update: May 2021.

CAT_2021-05-04_Briefing_Global-Update_Climate-SummitMomentum.pdf (accessed Aug 17, 2021).

UN Environment Programme. Emissions gap report 2020. Nairobi: United Nations Environment Programme, 2020.

Markandya A, Sampedro J, Smith SJ, et al. Health co-benefits from air pollution and mitigation costs of the Paris Agreement: a

modelling study. Lancet Planet Health 2018; 2: e126–33.

Paremoer L, Nandi S, Serag H, Baum F. Covid-19 pandemic and the social determinants of health. BMJ 2021; 372: n129.




How to Cite

Association, S. A. (2021). Call for emergency action to limit global temperature increases, restore biodiversity, and protect health- Wealthy nations must do much more, much faster. South African Dental Journal, 76(09), 511–513. Retrieved from