Reacting to a report today from the World Meteorological Organization, which shows that the increased frequency and intensity of heatwaves are significantly lowering air quality worldwide, threatening people’s health and their right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s Climate Advisor, said:
“Climate change is increasing the intensity and frequency of heatwaves, and extreme heat, compounded by wildfires and desert dust, is measurably damaging air quality on a vast scale and threatening people’s human right to health and to a healthy environment.
Climate change is increasing the intensity and frequency of heatwaves, and extreme heat, compounded by wildfires and desert dust, is measurably damaging air quality on a vast scale.Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s Climate Advisor
“Climate change and air quality are inextricably linked. The same pollutants that cause climate change harm air quality, endangering human health, damaging ecosystems, lowering agricultural productivity and putting lives at risk on a daily basis.
“It is especially worrying that the data underlying this report pertains to last year and has yet to take account of the enormous quantities of pollutants generated by record high global temperatures experienced in the last three months, or the particulate matter generated by huge wildfires in Canada and Europe, many of which are still burning.
“This underscores the need for rapid, effective and participatory climate action, including a fast and fair phase-out of fossil fuels through a just energy transition that fully respects and protects human rights to ensure enjoyment of the rights to life, health, water and sanitation, among others.
This underscores the need for rapid, effective and participatory climate action, including a fast and fair phase-out of fossil fuels through a just energy transition.Ann Harrison
“If we want to avert an even worse climate disaster, the time for meaningful action is now. We cannot rely on unproven carbon capture or removal and storage technologies as these will only discourage the fossil fuel phase-out. Nor are carbon credit markets, which have been shown to be open to manipulation and abuse by fossil fuel polluters resistant to the just transition we need, the answer to this crisis.”
“Countries must act to safeguard public health and human rights. Those with the biggest responsibility for historical emissions must ensure their existing climate finance commitments are met to help protect the rights of the Indigenous peoples and marginalized communities most vulnerable to climate change.”
Amnesty International has highlighted the health impacts of climate change, which are worse for marginalized individuals and groups such as refugees and migrants. It has also documented the impact of heatwaves on human rights in vulnerable communities.
Amnesty International is part of a civil society and Indigenous peoples’ coalition that won the prestigious United Nations Human Rights Prize for successfully campaigning to have everyone’s right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment universally recognized.
The World Meteorological Organization is the United Nation’s agency responsible for atmospheric science and climatology, hydrology and geophysics. According to data released today by the EU-funded Copernicus Climate Change Service, June, July and August 2023 was the hottest three month period ever recorded.