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Global Climate Strike: A call to action to save our planet

On September 20th and 27th, millions of youth around the world walked out of their schools, colleges and offices to bring the utmost attention on climate change and its impacts. The youth-led Global Climate Strike saw a huge turnout in South Asian countries that are already facing the heat of climate change, with floods, heat waves, vector borne diseases, air pollution, sea-level rise and droughts impacting livelihoods, food production and overall health.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released last year warned that we have just 11 years to limit the global temperature from rising above 1.5 degree Celsius and to curtail the most devastating impacts of climate change. At the receiving end of these climate change events is the global health care which could be threatened by overwhelming negative health outcomes and healthcare system disruptions. We have already seen various examples of health systems disruption in India, in the past few years through massive, floods which brought the city and the heath system to a halt. The detrimental effects of climate change will continue to rise if sweeping actions are not taken. There is a fierce urgency to educate people about the profound risks of climate change and the health system, as continuing trusted voices in every society, need to take up leadership in addressing the issue of climate change.

As a part of the Health and Environment Leadership Platform, (an initiative working to reduce the environmental footprint of the Indian health sector and highlight the importance of capacity building of physicians on the environmental burden caused by climate change), as many as 20 hospitals in Bengaluru and New Delhi took a break from their work during lunch hours to participate in the climate strike and extended their solidarity to the youth led global movement. The doctors and health professionals in these hospitals prepared banners, posters, and some held seminars to educate their staff and general public on climate change and how our day to day carbon intensive habits are polluting and ravaging our environment. The events signify the start of awareness and sensitization about climate change amongst our health sector representatives in India. The seeds of change have thus been sown and a greater health sector movement to address climate change issues and impacts in India is well underway!

Centre of Environmental Health (CEH), Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) supported the Youth Charter to demand Climate Action to move towards a sustainable world. IIPH-D students from different states of India wrote ‘Climate Crisis’ in over 10 vernacular & other international languages to draw attention to the urgent need for Climate Action across the country and the globe. Using creative art forms as a method of expressing concern about climate change, students also created original pieces of artwork ranging from illusion art to portraits of Greta Thunberg. Students were also encouraged to brainstorm and share solutions to combat Climate Change. Students from IIPH Delhi and Hyderabad shared some innovative strategies to deal with the climate crisis while answering the question “What would you do to address the Climate Crisis as a policymaker?”. Stepping into the shoes of policy makers, the students came up with solutions for promoting solar energy, green infrastructure and limiting use of greenhouse gases in order to fuel action for combatting climate change.

It is imperative for the health sector to address the issue of climate change because India’s healthcare climate footprint’s global contribution is at par with countries like Australia, Canada and South Korea (new research published by the Health Care Without Harm). Compared to these countries, India is more vulnerable to looming climate change impacts and this could imminently impact our climate footprint as well reverse or stall decades of progress we have made in public health.

Centre of Environmental Health (CEH), Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) supported the Youth Charter to demand Climate Action to move towards a sustainable world. IIPH-D students from different states of India wrote ‘Climate Crisis’ in over 10 vernacular & other international languages to draw attention to the urgent need for Climate Action across the country and the globe. Using creative art forms as a method of expressing concern about climate change, students also created original pieces of artwork ranging from illusion art to portraits of Greta Thunberg. Students were also encouraged to brainstorm and share solutions to combat Climate Change. Students from IIPH Delhi and Hyderabad shared some innovative strategies to deal with the climate crisis while answering the question “What would you do to address the Climate Crisis as a policymaker?”. Stepping into the shoes of policy makers, the students came up with solutions for promoting solar energy, green infrastructure and limiting use of greenhouse gases in order to fuel action for combatting climate change.

Young people are the driving force behind the Fridays for Future movement and are also unifying a common call for urgent action against climate change. Youth, college and school students are the future and also the generation faced with the consequences of the alarming climate crisis. In support of this youth-led movement, the Centre facilitated a student-driven campaign involving students from Indian Institutes of Public Health in Delhi, Gandhinagar and Hyderabad. Students created a Youth Charter to demand Climate Action to move towards a sustainable world. IIPH-D students from different states of India wrote ‘Climate Crisis’ in over 10 vernacular & other international languages to draw attention to the urgent need for Climate Action across the country and the globe. Using creative art forms as a method of expressing concern about climate change, students also created original pieces of artwork ranging from illusion art to portraits of Greta Thunberg. Students were also encouraged to brainstorm and share solutions to combat Climate Change. Students from IIPH Delhi and Hyderabad shared some innovative strategies to deal with the climate crisis while answering the question “What would you do to address the Climate Crisis as a policymaker?”. Stepping into the shoes of policy makers, the students came up with solutions for promoting solar energy, green infrastructure and limiting use of greenhouse gases in order to fuel action for combatting climate change.

This blog post is written by Shriram Manogaran Research Associate & Project Coordinator (Technical) and Surabhi Dogra, Communications Manager, Centre for Environmental Health.