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Governments urged to act on greenwashing, as COP27 puts spotlight on health and climate justice

A new report heaps pressure on governments and businesses to stop greenwashing and dishonest climate accounting, as the COP27 meeting now underway in Egypt puts a focus on health and climate justice.

The report below, produced as part of our #HealthyCOP27 series, includes links for Croakey readers wanting to engage with COP27 events and discussions.


Melissa Sweet writes:

Governments have been urged to introduce tough, transparent regulatory regimes to stop greenwashing by businesses, financial institutions and other entities making net zero promises that do not stack up.

Recommendations to stop “dishonest climate accounting” and bring “integrity, transparency and accountability” to net zero pledges are outlined in a new report prepared for the United Nations.

The authors say their report, ‘Integrity Matters: Net Zero Commitments by Businesses, Financial Institutions, Cities and Regions’ provides a roadmap to prevent net zero from being undermined by false claims, ambiguity and “greenwash”.

“If greenwash premised upon low-quality net zero pledges is not addressed, it will undermine the efforts of genuine leaders, creating both confusion, cynicism and a failure to deliver urgent climate action,” they say.

The report was released at the 27th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change taking place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, from 6 to 18 November.

Health advocates and First Nations peoples from many countries, including Australia, are working hard to put climate justice, health and equity on the agenda at COP27.

This COP itself has also faced criticisms about corporate greenwashing. Coca Cola’s financial support of the event has been criticised by climate action campaigner Greta Thunberg and other environmental organisations.

The new report also sets the scene for the health threats caused by climate change, describing the impacts of drying in China, floods in Pakistan, heatwaves in western Europe and extreme weather events in the United States.

“Furthermore, tens of millions of Africans face acute food insecurity in the drought-ravaged Horn of Africa. All told, these and other climate-fuelled disasters are resulting in trillions of dollars of damages and displacing tens of millions of people,” it says.

“There have been 29 disasters which cost over $1 billion each so far this year. The toll isn’t only on humans, but on nature itself. Over the past five decades, global wildlife populations have plummeted nearly 70 percent due to climate change and other human activities.

“In many instances, these impacts are unfolding even faster than scientists had predicted, which only increases the urgency of heeding their advice: to limit warming to 1.5°C, global emissions must peak by 2025 and be cut in half by 2030, on the way to net zero emissions by mid-century.”

The report warns that non‑state actors cannot claim to be net zero while continuing to build or invest in new fossil fuel supply. Two-thirds of the world’s largest listed businesses still lack a net zero pledge, and of the one‑third that do, only a portion have committed to an independent voluntary initiative, the report said.

The majority of privately-listed businesses and state‑owned enterprises have no net zero target at all.

“Regulation is therefore needed to level the playing field and transform the groundswell of voluntary commitments into ground rules for the economy overall,” says the report. “Promisingly, regulation around net zero is growing quickly in areas like claims, transition plans, procurement, product standards and disclosure.”

United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, who commissioned the report, said that while growing numbers of governments and non-state actors are pledging to be carbon-free, the criteria and benchmarks for these net zero commitments “have varying levels of rigor and loopholes wide enough to drive a diesel truck through”.

“We must have zero tolerance for net zero greenwashing,” he said.

“Using bogus ‘net zero’ pledges to cover up massive fossil fuel expansion is reprehensible. It is rank deception. This toxic cover-up could push our world over the climate cliff. The sham must end.”

Focus on health and First Nations

Many COP27 events are putting a focus on climate justice and health-related issues, including air pollution, extreme heat, effective climate and health communications, food insecurity, the role of psychology, disaster responses, and the experiences of countries in building climate-resilient and low-carbon health systems.

First Nations people, academics and representatives of Doctors for the Environment Australia and the Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) are attending COP27 (see this previous Croakey article by Gumbaynggirr nyami Amba-Rose Atkinson, ‘At COP27 and beyond: First Nations voices and solutions must be “heard at all times and at every level of society”.’ )

CAHA’s Policy and Advocacy Manager, Arthur Wyns, is doing broadcasts during the meeting, to keep interested parties abreast of health developments (check the registration links here and also below in the COP27 calendar).

Associate Professor Ying Zhang, from the University of Sydney School of Public Health and Co-Chair of the Lancet Countdown Australia on Health and Climate Change, is chairing an event on 10 November on the need to strengthen climate change education for all health professionals.

Zhang, who is also tweeting from COP27, told Croakey that she is encouraged to see health becoming an increasing priority in climate negotiations, thanks to the leadership at the World Health Organization team and efforts from the civil society.

“You can literally feel the passion and energy at the WHO Health Pavilion,” she said.

Stilll, health still did not receive the same focus as other COP priorities, she said.

“For the coming days, I’d like to see more efforts on implementation. We have produced more research evidence but still see limited changes and impacts on the ground.”

More from Twitter



COP27 calendar

The program of events at the WHO Health Pavilion can be seen here, and Remy Shergill from CAHA has compiled the calendar below.


Thursday 10 November

CAHA live from COP27
CAHA’s Policy and Advocacy Manager, Arthur Wyns will be on the ground at COP27. Join Arthur online to hear about what’s going on, and what it means for our health.
9am EET // 6pm AEDT
Register here

Urgent action to strengthen climate change education for all health professionals. The event will highlight the importance of climate change education in building the capacity of health professionals for better preparedness and responses to the climate crisis. Speaking is Amba-Rose Atkinson, a young Gumbaynggirr nyami woman representing the Climate and Health Alliance.
World Health Organization & ATACH
10am EET // 7pm AEDT
Live stream will be made available here

From evidence to policy and action: Regional perspectives on response to climate change impacts on health
Lancet Countdown
11.30am EET // 8.30pm AEDT
Live stream will be made available here

US progress in enhancing health system sustainability and resilience at home and abroad
This event will demonstrate US leadership at the nexus of climate and health, including via partnerships underway domestically and internationally. Panellists will describe ways that these initiatives are promoting mitigation and adaptation in the context of both public health and health care. The session will also identify next steps for this vital, life-saving work.
US Department of Health and Human Services, US Department of State and US Agency for International Development
2pm EET // 11pm AEDT
Watch the livestream here

Partnerships beyond the health sector for accelerating the uptake of scientific knowledge
University of Melbourne
2pm EET // 11pm AEDT
Live stream will be made available here

The human right to a healthy environment
YOUNGO Health
3.30pm EET // 12.30am AEDT (Fri 11 Nov)
Live stream will be made available here

Climate change and health from medical students’ perspective
IFMSA
5pm EET // 2am AEDT (Fri 11 Nov)
Live stream will be made available here

Wildland fires: Planetary and public health solutions
Stanford University & World Health Organization
6.30pm EET // 3.30am AEDT (Fri 11 Nov)
Live stream will be made available here

Utilising expertise of the youth to bridge the science-policy divide and improve access to finance
How can we utilise the expertise of the youth to bridge the science-policy divide and drive climate action? Join this official COP27 side-event to debate barriers and opportunities for youth participation in policymaking.

Association of Commonwealth Universities
6.30pm EET // 3.30am AEDT (Fri 11 Nov)
Register here


Friday 11 November

“Climate change is a health emergency” at Devex Conversations
Devex will host a series of provocative conversations on global development and climate change on the sidelines of the COP 27 negotiations in person in Sharm El-Sheik. During this event, journalists will interview Diana Picon Manyari, International Climate Associate Director of Health Care Without Harm, on the climate health emergency.
Devex
Register here

Advancing development of climate resilient and low carbon health systems under the ATACH|
Commonwealth Secretariat, Health Canada & ATACH partners
10am EET // 7pm AEDT
Live stream will be made available here

Asthma and allergy: The perfect example for climate change and health outcome
European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
11.30am EET // 8.30pm AEDT
Live stream will be made available here

Fueling health harms: The human costs of fossil fuels
Global Climate & Health Alliance
2pm EET // 11pm AEDT
Watch the livestream here

Leading a healthy response to climate change
Canadian Association of Physicians of the Environment
3.30pm EET // 12.30am AEDT (Sat 12 Nov)
Live stream will be made available here

Transforming health systems through decarbonisation and resilience
Health Care Without Harm, Geneva Sustainability Centre, Médecins Sans Frontières & International Committee of the Red Cross
5pm EET // 2am AEDT (Sat 12 Nov)
Watch the livestream here


Saturday 12 November

The Global Stock Take: incorporating health metrics to meet the Paris goals
Lancet Countdown
10am EET // 7pm AEDT
Live stream will be made available here

Climate change, migration and health: Strengthening evidence to leave no one behind
IFRC, WHO, IOM, UHC2030 CSEM, WACI Health
11.30am EET // 8.30pm AEDT
Live stream will be made available here

Integrating nutrition and food security in Nationally Determined Contributions
United Nations University – EHS; Ministry of health, Haifa University
2pm EET // 11pm AEDT
Live stream will be made available here

Food for health and sustainability from the youth perspective
IFMSA
3.30pm EET // 12.30am AEDT (Sun 13 Nov)
Live stream will be made available here


Monday 14 November

CAHA live from COP27
CAHA’s Policy and Advocacy Manager, Arthur Wyns will be on the ground at COP27. Join Arthur online to hear about what’s going on, and what it means for our health.
Climate and Health Alliance
9am EET // 6pm AEDT
Register here

“Planetary health: Protecting lives and the environment” at the Make Climate Action Everyone’s Business Forum
The Make Climate Action Everyone’s Business Forum is a hybrid event broadcasted from the COP27 Blue Zone. Gary Cohen, co-founder and president of Health Care Without Harm, will be a speaker at “Planetary health: Protecting lives and the environment” session at 6pm EET.
ICC-APCO
6pm EET // 3am AEDT (Tue 15 Nov)
Register for the virtual conference here


Tuesday 15 November

The health-methane nexus: Opportunities for action
World Health Organization
10am EET // 7pm AEDT
Watch live stream here


Thursday 17 November

CAHA live from COP27
CAHA’s Policy and Advocacy Manager, Arthur Wyns will be on the ground at COP27. Join Arthur online to hear about what’s going on, and what it means for our health.
Climate and Health Alliance
9am EET // 6pm AEDT
Register here

Responding to climate disasters: Perspectives from emergency medicine
In this session, emergency clinicians and organisations will highlight their experiences in caring for patients with climate-sensitive conditions and vulnerable groups impacted by the climate crisis.
University of Colorado School of Medicine
5pm EET // 2am AEDT (Fri 18 Nov)
Watch the livestream here


Watch the first COP27 debrief with CAHA’s Arthur Wyns


Bookmark this link to follow the #HealthyCOP27 series.
On Twitter follow #HealthyCOP27 and also this Twitter list.

We acknowledge and thank the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation for funding the #HealthyCOP27 series, and Adjunct Professor Janine Mohamed and the Lowitja Institute for partnering with Croakey Health Media on the project.

 

 

 

 

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