The Minister of Health, Consumption and Social Welfare acting, María Luisa Carcedo, has made progress that Spain will present a battery of initiatives in the UN Climate Summit which is celebrated in September and which, on this occasion, will be led by Spain, through the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Ministry of Health, and Peru.
Among these initiatives, the minister highlighted "the novel" National Plan for Health and Environment "in which the Ministry is working". This Plan will establish the objectives and lines of intervention on the main environmental factors that influence human health.
"Several of these objectives are focused on promoting research and evaluating the impact of policies in environmental terms," said the minister during her speech at a debate organized in the Ministry under the theme "Health and Climate Change: Clean air, Healthy Cities ".
Carcedo has advanced that Spain works on other measures, which will also be presented at the United Nations Climate Summit, such as the Prevention plan against heat waves; the Air Plan; the National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan; and the Health Impacts of Climate Change.
"In reality it is about recovering the mandate included in article 45 of the Constitution", which establishes the right to enjoy an adequate environment for the development of the person, the minister has moved.
"This mandate, together with that of Article 43 of the Constitution that establishes the need to prevent and protect health, were in turn collected in the General Law of Public Health of 2011. However, its implementation was paralyzed for almost 8 years, "said the minister.
Carcedo has insisted on the need to act "urgently" on all the factors that affect the air we breathe: industrial emissions, heating, "and, especially in cities, on the management of road traffic." We can not allow any backward movement in this regard. because our children will not forgive us. "
The United Nations Summit on Climate Change in September is "an excellent opportunity," the minister has indicated, "to reach effective commitments among all interested parties to improve public health, comply with agreements to save lives, cut polluting emissions, clean the air and promote sustainable development. "
"No rich or poor country, large or small, can escape the impact of climate change," said Maria Luisa Carcedo. "The challenges of climate change are happening as we speak, they are right here, they affect all of us and, both governments and civil society, we must get down to work to combat them."
At this point, the minister has provided some data. According to World Health Organization (WHO), the environmental determinants of health are responsible for 20% of total mortality and 25% of the total burden of morbidity.
Likewise, and according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), health care costs attributable to diseases caused by the environment exceed 3% of GDP in developed countries.
"Today we know that extreme heat increases the number of premature deaths every summer," the minister added. "And we know that the poor quality of the environment and, in particular, air pollution seriously affect health."
The annual mortality attributable to chemical atmospheric pollution in Spain is around 10,000 people. "This is 8 times more than that caused by traffic accidents," said Carcedo.
According to International Agency for Cancer Research, air pollution is a Group 1 carcinogen that increases the risk of lung cancer to the same level as tobacco or other cancers such as breast cancer. It also increases hospital admissions, deaths due to cardiac and vascular problems, asthma or the risk of premature births.
In the debate on "Health and Climate Change: Clean Air, Healthy Cities" have also participated María Neira, Director of Public Health and Environment of the WHO; the Secretary of State for the Environment, Hugo Morán; and the president of the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces, Abel Caballero.
The Secretary of State for the Environment, Hugo Moran, stressed that air quality is one of the most important aspects that are affected by the models of energy generation and mobility.
Therefore, it considers it essential "to consolidate the alliance between environmental and human health strategies with clear and measurable objectives that help to shape new patterns of government".
In this regard, it has been advanced that Spain, together with Peru, will have the Coalition of Social and Political Drivers ahead of the Climate Action Summit, convened by the Secretary General of the UN, António Guterres, next September. As he explained, air quality, its effects on health and its link with climate change are centering much of the work of the coalition.