“To save tomorrow today”

by Cristina Tirado

To save tomorrow today.  This has been the mantra chanted and echoed by all at the opening of the high level segment at the COP17 in Durban, and is a mantra to be embraced by anyone concerned about the health impacts of climate change.

President of the COP17 Maite Nkoana-Mashabane from South Africa started the high level segment highlighting that we need to create an environment where we can work together “to save tomorrow today”.

President of South Africa Jacob Zuma stressed that Durban is a decisive moment and that we need to make a decisions here that include “the now and the future”. A second period of the Kyoto protocol is critical. He called on developed countries to lead the global efforts to reduce emissions and support developing countries in their mitigation and adaptation efforts.  Zuma called upon delegates to agree to a climate deal that enables generations to come to survive. “We need to save tomorrow today.”

It was coincidental, and quite inspiring, that while Christiana Figueres (UNFCCC) was opening the high level segment of the COP17, the Durban Health Declaration was being read at the South African Pavilion. A very good start to create a climate for health.

The urgency is clear. For the first time a UN Secretary General (UN SG) was present in a Conference of the Parties to call for a climate deal. The UN SG Ban-Ki Moon called parties to consider a second period of the Kyoto Protocol in Durban. Ban-Ki Moon urged striving for a Win-Win-Win: poverty reduction, green growth and cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Highlighting this urgency, President of Nauru, one of the Pacific Nations, which could be erased from the planet due to climate change, stressed that our own health is connected to the decisions in Durban.

PHI’s Center for Public Health and Climate Change and many other groups from the US and all over the world have joined forces to support the efforts to ensure that the health, nutrition, gender and humanitarian assistance needs of communities are properly addresses in the negotiations in Durban.

It is time for the US to commit to an emission target in Durban that protects our health today and ensures the survival of future generations and our planet tomorrow.

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