Mothers, WHO urge COP26 President Sharma to help place health impacts of fossil fuels and children’s rights at centre of climate talks
- Alok Sharma met mothers representing hundreds of parents’ campaign groups and the WHO to talk about their call to end new fossil fuels for childrens’ health.
- The mothers, from Europe, Latin America and South Asia, explained how air pollution is harming children’s health, including through chronic respiratory illness and cognitive development problems.
Stockholm, 3 June – UK COP26 President Alok Sharma met mothers representing hundreds of parents’ campaign groups and the World Health Organization to talk about their call to end financing for new fossil fuels to save childrens’ lives.
They met on the sidelines of the UN’s Stockholm +50 summit to advance planetary health. This was Sharma’s second meeting with the mothers since nearly 500 parents’ campaign organisations from 44 countries wrote an open letter to world leaders during COP26, warning that children are being poisoned by the burning of fossil fuels and asking for speedy transition to clean, healthy energy sources.
The mothers noted that 93 percent of children worldwide are breathing toxic air, and that this impacts their health in the form of asthma and cardiovascular and cognitive development.
Dr. Maria Neira, director of public health and environment at the World Health Organization, said during the meeting: “Governments are spending $5.3 trillion collectively on treating the consequences of air pollution. The combustion of fossil fuels is killing us and filling our hospitals with kids suffering from chronic disease. It’s harming the brain development of our next generation. This is why we have to move to clean energy as quickly as possible.”
Sharma and the mothers agreed to try and meet once more before the start of COP27 in Egypt in November.
The mothers are:
- Dr. Maria Neira, the World Health Organization’s director of public health and environment
- Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, BreatheLife ambassador and founder of the Ella Roberta Foundation in the UK
- Bhavreen Kandhari, co-founder of the Warrior Moms Collective in India
- Kamila Kadzidlowska, co-organiser of Parents for Future Poland (Rodzice dla Klimatu)
- Ana Maria Ancines, co-organiser of Parents for Future Colombia
- Frida Berry Eklund, co-founder of Our Kids’ Climate and Swedish climate parent group Våra barns klimat
Quotes from all the mothers that attended the meeting can be found below.
Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, BreatheLife ambassador and founder of the Ella Roberta Foundation in the UK: “Alok Sharma needs to hold all governments accountable for the promises made at COP26. This is a health crisis, our children are being killed by fossil fuels. Clean energy and clean air – in line with the WHO’s air quality guidelines – will save lives. The UK must set an example now that the rest of the world will follow, while we still hold the COP26 presidency.”
Bhavreen Kandhari, co-founder of the Warrior Moms Collective in India: “Isn’t it worth saving 13 lives a minute worldwide, or three lives a minute in India alone, just by saying ‘no’ to fossil fuels? Fossil fuels are killing our children, clean energy can save lives, and our political leaders are backsliding on the promises they made in Glasgow.”
Kamila Kadzidlowska, co-organiser of Parents for Future Poland (Rodzice dla Klimatu): “I live in the most polluted country in the EU, and our politicians are wasting another chance to save us from a spiralling crisis of health and insecurity, even as we face the Ukrainian war at our doorstep and recovering from the public health threat of Covid-19. We are now hosting a mother and her baby who escaped from Ukraine. Just days after they arrived, they both started suffering from respiratory problems, for the first time in the baby’s seven months of life. His mother saved him from war and is now scared to step outside because of the pollution.”
Ana Maria Ancines, co-organiser of Parents for Future Colombia: “Humanity is in urgent need of rethinking its definition of success, happiness, wealth and progress. Colombia is 50 percent covered by the Amazonia and Chocó rainforests, but between 2002 and 2020 Colombia lost unprecedented green cover – 1.66 million hectares – as a result of coal mining, cattle and cocoa farming and illegal deforestation. We need to protect this perfect and magnificent machine to guarantee clean air for all living beings.”
Frida Berry Eklund, Co-founder of Our Kids’ Climate and Swedish climate parent group Våra barns klimat: “Millions of parents are waking up to the fact that fossil fuels are killing our children. The inaction and dragging of feet of governments is unacceptable, immoral and we won’t stand for it anymore. We call on parents everywhere to get involved, stand up for children’s rights and push for clean energy.”