India Refrains From Signing Health Declaration

By Outlook Planet Desk December 04, 2023

COP 28: The decision reflects India's concerns over swiftly reducing the use of greenhouse gases in healthcare and underscores its efforts to balance environmental objectives with urgent healthcare demands

India Refrains From Signing Health Declaration
A delegate from Kenya echoed India's concerns, emphasising the necessity of balancing environmental goals with the imperative of providing medical services to vulnerable populations. Shutterstock

India has opted out of endorsing the COP 28 Declaration on Climate and Health, highlighting concerns over the practicality of swiftly reducing greenhouse gas usage in healthcare cooling. The decision, communicated during the inaugural Health Day at the 28th UN Climate Change Conference (COP 28), underscores India's position on balancing environmental objectives with the urgent demands of its healthcare sector.

The COP 28 Declaration, a pivotal document addressing the nexus of climate change and global health, garnered support from 124 nations. Notably, the United States and India, major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, should have signed the declaration.

The central focus of the declaration revolves around advocating rapid and substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, specifically within the realm of healthcare infrastructure.

However, a significant hurdle emerged as the draft articulated a commitment to curbing greenhouse gases for cooling applications in healthcare—a measure India deems challenging, according to sources. India's contention lies in the potential hindrance to meeting escalating healthcare demands, especially in remote and underserved areas, if stringent regulations on greenhouse gas reduction for cooling are enforced.

A delegate from Kenya echoed India's concerns, emphasising the necessity of balancing environmental goals with the imperative of providing medical services to vulnerable populations.

India's stance aligns with its G20 declaration, which emphasised resilient health. The three key health priorities during India's G20 presidency included establishing a robust healthcare system, facilitating access to medical countermeasures, and fostering international collaboration to exchange digital goods.

The COP 28 Declaration encompasses a holistic approach to addressing climate change's diverse impacts on health, extending beyond physical health to include mental health, preservation of traditional medicinal knowledge, protection of livelihoods and cultures, and managing climate-induced displacement and migration.

A pivotal objective of the declaration is the commitment to tackling inequalities within and among countries. It underscores the pursuit of policies accelerating progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG3, focusing on good health and well-being.

The comprehensive approach aims to alleviate poverty and hunger, enhance health and livelihoods, fortify social protection systems, improve food security and nutrition, and ensure universal access to clean energy, safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene.

Recognising the carbon footprint of health systems, the declaration encourages measures to curb emissions and reduce waste in the health sector. This includes assessing greenhouse gas emissions, developing action plans, establishing nationally determined decarbonisation targets, and implementing procurement standards for national health systems and supply chains.

The overarching goal is to foster sustainable practises within the health sector, aligning with broader climate objectives and emphasising the interplay between environmental sustainability and global health considerations.