Laos Joins Global Call for Action on Climate, Health Issues at COP28

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The Vice Minister of Laos and others speaking at COP28 in the UAE (Photo: WHO)

Laos has joined 122 other countries in endorsing the Declaration on Climate and Health (COP28) at the 28th UN Climate Change Conference in the United Arab Emirates from 30 November to 12 December.

Climate change poses a significant threat to Laos, with projections of extreme weather events, increasing temperatures, and rising rainfall, particularly in the south. These changes are expected to reach 2–3 degree Celsius temperature increases by 2050 and 10–30 percent higher rainfall, putting the country at heightened vulnerability, as reported by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The new COP28 declaration voices deep concerns about the adverse effects of climate change on health and calls for immediate actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, combat air pollution, and promote sustainable lifestyles globally.

In a pioneering effort, the Lao Ministry of Health is spearheading efforts at the conference to address the intersection of climate change and public health.

Laos is not only a signatory to the COP28 Declaration but is also actively participating in the Alliance for Transformative Action on Climate and Health (ATACH), an initiative established by WHO to assist countries in fulfilling their commitments made at COP26 on climate change and health.

“Low-middle-income countries are most impacted by climate change but have contributed the least to greenhouse gas emissions, said Sanong Thongsana, the Vice Minister of Health for Laos and one of ATACH’s co-chairs. “We must take the opportunity to lead the climate response in collaboration with high-income countries.”

Further acknowledging the global health sector’s 5 percent contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, he called for ambitious measures to transform health facilities and programs into low-carbon, sustainable systems.

WHO Laos Representative, Ying-Ru Lo, also commended the country’s proactive approach to climate change through initiatives such as the National Health Adaptation Plan.

Lo praised Laos for its influential international role and domestic actions toward achieving net-zero carbon emissions from the health sector, especially from energy use, transportation, waste management, production, and disposal of medical products.

COP28, officially known as the 28th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), is a global gathering where countries unite to address the climate crisis and play a pivotal role in shaping international climate policies.

The conference aims to limit global warming, support vulnerable communities, and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 through discussions and agreements on essential climate measures.