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ACEM also entreats nations to immediately act to adapt health systems to minimise the harms that climate change already poses to public health.

ACEM, who declared climate change a medical emergency in November 2019, knows that climate change is the greatest risk to global population health. Predictions show that climate change will exacerbate existing healthcare and general global inequities. Without immediate action, we will see significant health impacts and premature deaths, particularly in vulnerable populations – the elderly, the poor and children.
 
Modelling further shows that, without drastic action, climate change will increase the number of overall emergency department presentations, further overcrowding health systems which are already dangerously overcrowded. Climate change also increase the complexity of presentations and create enormous surges in demand from climate disasters.
 
ACEM urges all global leaders to immediately take action to implement the 10 recommendations outlined in WHO’s  COP26 Special Report on Climate Change and Health.
 
ACEM President Dr John Bonning said, “The global response to COVID-19 has shown us that the world can come together to solve enormous health crises. We must now come together to fight the biggest public health emergency the world has ever known – climate change.”
 
“The time to act is now. We only have this decade to take action in order to limit temperature rise to below 1.5 °C. If we do not do this, we will see irreversible damage to our environment, increasing frequency and severity and escalating health impacts on communities.”
 
“However, while mitigation is critical, adaptation also is essential to minimise the harms that climate change already poses. Global leaders must commit to actions that will allow healthcare systems to enact adaptation strategies to protect public health right now.”
 
“We call upon leaders assembled at the COP26 meeting to come together and take definitive steps to re-commit to actions agreed upon in the Paris Agreement and make bold steps to protect the health of the world’s people today – and in the future.”
 
ACEM Public Health and Disaster Committee Chair Dr Lai Heng Foong said, “Already, heat kills more people than any natural disaster in Australia. Air pollution continues to take millions of lives every year. Since the beginning of this year, we have seen floods ravaging through parts of Europe, killing hundreds of people and destroying hundreds of millions worth of property. We have seen unprecedented destruction on the West Coast of the US due to forest fires. Without immediate, coordinated and drastic action, this is only going to get worse.”
 
“For the good of our patients, hospitals, communities and the world, we must take urgent action on this population health emergency and leave a legacy for our children and grandchildren that is transformational and life affirming.”

ACEM President-Elect Dr Clare Skinner said, “We deal with the consequences of climate change every day in our emergency departments and healthcare systems. Without urgent and collective global action, this is going to continue to get worse – and worse. COP26 is a significant moment for our world’s leaders to commit to action to protect humanity from the worst effects of climate change. A better, healthier future for all is still possible, and we entreat countries to immediately implement the ten recommendations and respective action points outlined in WHO’s COP26 Special Report on Climate Change and Health.”

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