Climate change is affecting the health of both people and the planet right now. It will affect the most fundamental determinants of health: water, food, air and which infectious diseases we are exposed to. This is something that health bodies around the world have sought to highlight time and again through statements, declarations and calls to action.
Medact – with our partners Healthy Planet UK – are working with the major health institutions in the UK to take this commitment further by divesting from the fossil fuel industry. As a community committed to improving health worldwide, we hope that organisations such as the Royal Colleges and the Wellcome Trust, will remove their investments from an industry whose very business model threatens to completely undermine human and planetary health.
Divesting will send an important message that tackling climate change requires immediate preventative action through a drastic reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and rapid transition to a zero-carbon world. Such changes may be considered disruptive and difficult, but are necessary and can bring enormous benefits to human health and well-being both in the short term and in the years and decades to come.
Climate change is already happening, and a rapid fall in emissions is required to prevent severe impacts on health. We simply cannot afford to burn more than one fifth of the world’s remaining fossil fuels if we wish to avoid climate change greater than 2 degrees’ rise, which would be extremely dangerous for health in the UK and globally.