The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that climate change is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths globally per year through various factors including shifts in disease patterns and deteriorating air quality. The Paris climate summit, which is to be held from November 20 to December 11, 2015, aims to produce a worldwide pact on keeping global warming from climbing past two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels. The United Nations (UN) has suggested that this upcoming climate summit could produce the most important agreement of the century for public health matters.
In 2014, the WHO published a report indicating that some seven million people die annually from air pollution-related diseases, but that health considerations are still not given sufficient attention in debates about climate change.
Maria Neira, director of public health at WHO, said, "An ambitious agreement would save lives and ease health budgets worldwide. The treaty, if it's a good one, will probably be the most important public health treaty of this century."
Citing an example of how rising global temperatures have already sparked public health problems, WHO's climate change team leader Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum pointed to malaria, which he said has begun to appear with increased frequency in areas with previously negligible prevalence.