GAHP at T20
On May 13, 2020, GAHP’s Acting Executive Director Rachael Kupka attended the T20 Webinar “Coronavirus and Climate: Converging Global Crises” to share GAHP’s policy brief on pollution-related diseases and COVID-19.
GAHP is a member of the T20 Task Force 2 on Climate Change and Environment. The event brought together researchers and experts from institutes, universities and think tanks from around the world. What Kupka heard was a discussion that mirrored GAHP’s understanding of the mounting evidence connecting air pollution, climate change and COVID-19 health outcomes.
“This intersection between pollution, health and climate change is something that GAHP has been advocating to be included in international agendas for the past eight years. So I was thrilled to hear that all the panelists were in agreement, and that they all believe the global restart must address these interconnected issues,” says Kupka.
“We have the data, the health arguments, the economic arguments, and a long list of solutions, many of which are outlined in our policy brief. Clearly, efforts to reduce air pollution, enforce air quality standards and strengthen regulations, now and after the COVID-19 crisis, are critical.”
Among the key solutions in the GAHP policy brief, notes Richard Fuller, chair of the GAHP Board, is increasing fines for pollution non-compliance to a level that makes it uneconomic for polluters. He believes this is the right time politically to increase those penalties to keep air and water safe. Moreover, those fines can be a source of revenue for enforcement activities.
Kupka explains: “We need to make it clear that pollution and climate change are killing people, just like COVID. If governments are not willing to let people die from the pandemic, they cannot be OK with people dying from pollution and climate change later, especially if we can restart the global economy in a green way.”
“Conveying these messages to the G20 is incredibly important. The restart has to be done right.”
Watch Kupka’s intervention at the T20 meeeting below: