The upcoming climate summit in Paris could produce the most significant agreement of the century for public health matters, the UN said Tuesday.
The World Health Organization estimates that climate alter is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths globally per year through various factors including shifts in disease patterns & deteriorating air quality.
Last year, the UN agency published a report indicating that some seven million people die annually from air pollution-related diseases, yet that health considerations "are still not given sufficient attention in debates approximately climate change."
Maria Neira, director of public health at WHO, said that an ambitious agreement would save lives & ease health budgets worldwide.
"The treaty, if it's a satisfactory one, will probably be the most significant public health treaty of this century," she said.
The November 20-December 11 talks in the French capital aim to produce a worldwide pact on keeping global warming from climbing past two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels.
Among the initiatives the WHO said deserve serious consideration, is a plan for raising the cost of fossil fuels to offset their negative health impacts.
Such a "tax" could possibly reduce air pollution deaths by half, reduce carbon dioxide emissions while raising some $3 trillion in new revenue, WHO said.
Citing an example of how rising global temperatures have already sparked public health problems, WHO's climate alter team leader Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum pointed to malaria, which he said has begun to appear with increased frequency in areas with previously negligible prevalence.