Act

"By 2015, approximately 2.3 billion adults will be overweight and more than 700 million will be obese”

WHO

And what does this have to do with climate change?..

Measures that we can take to reduce the burden of chronic diseases and promote wellbeing can simultaneously reduce our contribution to climate change. Carbon intensive activities are often unhealthy activities e.g. popping down to the local shop in your car rather than walking is bad for your wallet, your health and the environment (A recent blog post on the realities of sustainable transport). Fortunately, by taking action to reduce carbon we can improve health and healthcare, for example, by streamlining patients' medical appointments, encouraging healthier diets and more active lifestyles and reducing waste.

"One of the most effective methods for increasing the adoption of sustainable behaviour is to model the behavior we wish others to adopt" Douglas Mackenzie-Mohr, Fostering Sustainable Behaviour, 1999

Countries and groups who have the most economic wealth currently use far more than their fair share of global resources and emit more than their fair share of greenhouse gases contributing to climate change. To protect health from climate change, those who have the highest carbon emissions must lead the way in reducing our global ecological footprint. (Read about a practical proposal to achieve this - Contraction and Convergence.)

As a group, and as individuals, we have the power to take action. We want to be able to look back from a healthier, sustainable future and say that when the difficult decisions had to be made we acted decisively. We were the ones who transformed the health system and provided our children with a fair opportunity to flourish.

As a first easy step, why not measure your carbon footprint?

 

Creating a sustainable health service

The UK’s National Health Service has a target of 80% emissions reduction by 2050 and is taking positive and tangible steps to achieve this goal. Signifcant financial savings can be achieved in measures that reduce the ecological footprint of the the health service - see a blog post on the financial cost of wasted medicines.

Health professionals can sway opinion and institute action to effect change. Could you do this where you work? Visit the NHS Sustainable Development Unit website www.sdu.nhs.uk for more ideas from within the UK.


Act to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions, and inspire the change in others. You’re in the best place to continue your journey!

Go to the Connect page to find out more about working with other health care professionals just like you.


Some ideas - how to reduce your impact at home and at work

 

Savings equivalent to the carbon emissions per year of nearly a quarter of a million people can be made through the actions instigated by hospital doctors and general practitioners according to calculations cited in BMJ: Ten Practical Actions

You can reduce your carbon footprint through behaviour change and through technology change:

Behaviour change can improve health and reduce carbon emissions:

· buying less meat and dairy and choosing local produce – see WWF’s advice on changing the way we eat

· active travel plans, using public transport, bikes and car-share schemes, see "evidence on a page" series on the health benefits of active travel

· switching off machines when not in use, wearing more clothing in winter, using natural ventilation in the summer

· minimising use of disposables and waste

· encouraging your patients to live more healthily and sustainably by adopting lower-carbon lifestyles

Technology change can improve health and reduce carbon emissions:

·Using clean energy to reduce pollution, eg electric vehicles powered from renewable energy, and policies to replace inefficient indoor stoves in developing country homes

·Investing in and using renewable sources, to reduce health risks from fossil fuel extraction, transport and combustion

·Using technology to support behaviour change: eg putting in buzzers when doors are left open on refrigerated rooms.


Act to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions, and inspire the change in others. You’re in the best place to continue your journey!

Go to the Connect page to find out more about working with other health care professionals just like you.