The 2021 report coincides with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26), at which countries are facing pressure to realise the ambition of the Paris Agreement to keep the global average temperature rise to 1.5°C and to mobilise the financial resources required for all countries to have an effective climate response. These negotiations unfold in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic—a global health crisis that has claimed millions of lives, affected livelihoods and communities around the globe, and exposed deep fissures and inequities in the world’s capacity to cope with, and respond to, health emergencies. Yet, in its response to both crises, the world is faced with an unprecedented opportunity to ensure a healthy future for all.
The report details deepening inequalities in a warming world. Climate change is beginning to reverse years of progress in tackling the food and water insecurity that still affects the most underserved populations around the world, denying them an essential aspect of good health. An inequitable response to climate change and emissions will harm everyone. Even in the most affluent countries, people in the most deprived areas overwhelmingly bear the burden of health effects from exposure to air pollution. These findings expose the health costs of the delayed and unequal mitigation response and underscore the millions of deaths to be prevented annually through a low-carbon transition that prioritises the health of all populations. However, leaders of the world still have an unprecedented opportunity to deliver a future of improved health, reduced inequity, and economic and environmental sustainability. This will only be possible if the world acts together to ensure that no person is left behind.