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I am deeply honored to open and co-chair this discussion about climate, health and jobs. Themes that affect us all, whether we come from small or big nations. Climate change doesn’t discriminate. It threatens us all.
About 7 million people die prematurely each year due to air pollution. Tens of thousands die from climate change every year, and excess deaths are expected to rise to 250,000 per year by 2030. Climate change related health costs are estimated to reach up to four billion US dollars per year in 2030. It is our responsibility to prevent such development.
The good news is that actions we must take to tackle climate change have significant co-benefits. By developing new innovations and green energy we can improve our economic wellbeing. A green and low-carbon economy can generate worldwide up to 60 million additional jobs over the next two decades. By improving air and water quality we can improve our health and wellbeing.
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In today’s discussion we seek solutions to ensure health and jobs co-benefits of climate action. These solutions stem from all of us. From me and you, from a change in our attitudes.
In Finland we have tried to concentrate on these solutions from early on. A key anchor of our climate strategy has been more energy efficient production and use of energy. By shifting to cleaner energy we have managed to reduce 92% of Finland’s fine partical emissions.
We believe that as a “green tech” and “clean-tech” country we can re-invigorate our economy, and increase our job and tax base. Clean technology has been the fastest growing sector in Finland, growing 15 percent in 2013. Finland is a leader in biofuels production, including next generation biofuels; in efficient water technologies; and in the development of digital healthcare technologies. A topical case in point is Finnair – our national carrier – which responded to the Secretary-General’s call for action and operated its flight from Helsinki to New York today using environmentally sustainable biofuel.
Building economic development around green tech and clean tech will also help us sustain our health system, and in particularly the costs of universal health coverage and occupational health.
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Our work has only just begun. We need more concrete actions, more commitments and especially more human creativity. I urge us all to find more ways to help us all to better mitigate and adapt to climate change. A business as usual approach is no longer a viable model. Thank you.