I feel very privileged to be a part of the Climate and Health Alliance's delegation to this year's UN climate talks, COP25, in Madrid. As a first timer to the conference, the experience can be overwhelming, yet there is a strong sense of community and camaraderie among the international health delegation attending the COP -- with everyone helping to guide each other through the daily briefings, events, media and actions.
With the release of the World Meteorological Organization's report on the State of the Global Climate in 2019, it is clear that now more than ever we need immediate and effective action on climate change to protect the health of humans and the planet.
Yet to-date the response has not been fast enough or bold enough.
The international health delegation sees this failing as an opportunity to promote the health co-benefits of action on climate change to motivate greater ambition within countries' Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs - i.e., countries' commitments to reduce levels of greenhouse gas emissions). There is also plans already afoot to make COP26 in Glasgow next year 'The Health COP'!
With many health events happening throughout the conference this year, people are starting to recognise the link between climate change and health.
Yet, in Australia, our Federal government has failed to implement any kind of policy to protect people's health and well-being from the impacts of climate change. In fact, our government won't even acknowledge the link between climate change and the 'unprecedented' bushfires that have ravaged the country.
This failing, along with Prime Minister Scott Morrison's highly inappropriate tweet from the cricket, helped Australia earn the very first award for 'Fossil of the Day'. This is awarded to the country who is doing the most, to do the least on climate.
Along with the international health delegation, I will continue to push the health message throughout COP, and look forward to being joined by my fellow CAHA delegates in the next few days!
With many more updates to come, you can follow us on Twitter at @healthy_climate for live coverage.