Climate change "already killing tens of thousands of people" annually

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Brick kiln production is responsible for air pollution in many cities of the world. Credit: UNEP

Shifting disease patterns, extreme weather events and degraded air and food quality are examples of how climate change is already killing tens of thousands of people each year, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Tuesday.

The UN agency said the upcoming global climate change conference in the French capital, Paris is an "important opportunity" to protect the health of current and future generations.

Dianne Penn reports.

Climate change is "the defining issue for the 21st century," according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The UN agency estimates that seven million people died from diseases related to air pollution in 2012, making it the world's largest single environmental health risk.

It also predicts that between 2030 and 2050, an additional 250,000 people will die from malaria, diarrhoea, heat stress and under-nutrition.

WHO will be in Paris for the global climate change conference, known as COP21, which kicks off at the end of the month.

World leaders are expected to sign off on a new treaty that will limit global warming to below two degrees Celsius.

Dr Maria Neira is Director of WHO's Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health.

"We want a very ambitious treaty in Paris. The more ambitious the treaty is, the better for public health."

WHO is urging health professionals worldwide to sign a Call for Action that will serve as what it describes as a "clarion call" for a strong global climate change agreement.

The agency is also helping countries to define how climate change is affecting them individually, and what steps they can take.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1’22″

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