By signing the Climate and Health Council pledge (signing up to be a member), you can support the following Charter.
We will use these messages to advocate to international, national and regional decision makers, to highlight the key issues that must underline all policy making and practice in order to protect health and equity.
The Climate and Health Council Charter
WHAT’S GOOD FOR THE CLIMATE IS GOOD FOR HEALTH!
Messages to decision-makers from the health professions
A substantial and rapid reduction in greenhouse gas emissions presents an unrivalled opportunity to protect human health around the world. As health professionals, we are in a unique position to help decision makers drive the individual and institutional changes required to prevent disruption of ecosystems, and protect health from climate change. Preventing climate change is good for health because:
1: CLIMATE CHANGE IS AN AVOIDABLE THREAT TO HEALTH
If we continue on current trajectories, climate change and associated environmental threats will destroy the ecosystems on which life depends. Climate change is already causing damage to homes and livelihoods, increasing food insecurity and exacerbating human conflict over natural resources that are fundamental determinants of health – arable land, water and clean air. Although the worst effects are felt in developing countries, no countries are immune to the effects of climate change. Immediate and resolute global action is essential to protect health worldwide
2. LOW-CARBON SOCIETIES – THE NEXT GREAT HEALTH ADVANCE
Policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions can result in large health gains with reduction in major killers including heart disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, road deaths and diseases from air pollution. For example, consuming less food derived from intensively-reared livestock, being more active (e.g. walking or cycling) and relying less on fossil fuel energy, and especially in low income countries, the mass introduction of low-emission stoves burning local biomass fuels, would bring substantial health benefits.
Working together, heath professionals and decision makers can promote healthier, more environmentally friendly societies, for example by promoting provision of green spaces. A sustainable society is a place where you, your children, and your children’s children would wish to live.
3. CLIMATE CHANGE IS INCREASING THE HEALTH DIFFERENTIAL BETWEEN RICH AND POOR. ADDRESSING CLIMATE CHANGE IS AN OPPORTUNITY
to decrease this differential, and so reduce the inequality and poverty which increases the risk of disease and death for large numbers of people around the world. The poorest countries and the poorest populations within each country experience the worst effects of climate change, whilst the richest countries and populations add far in excess of their fair share of the emissions that contribute to climate change.
There is an unprecedented opportunity to reduce global health inequalities through an international agreement based on social justice, whereby national greenhouse gas emissions converge to equal per capita shares within the planet’s sustainable and finite limit. Policies to address climate change can bring greatest health gains to those with the poorest health if they are implemented with health equity and sustainability as central, linked agendas.
4. HEALTH DEPENDS ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, NOT ON TRADITIONAL GLOBAL ECONOMIC GROWTH
The pursuit of carbon-emitting economic growth has not and will not provide sustainable economic and social stability – key determinants of health - for much of the world’s population now and for the extra two to two-and-a-half billion people to come. In high-income countries, consumerism and overconsumption are associated with ill-health, loss of well-being, stress and dissatisfaction. Sustainable development depends on a sustainable economy: prosperity and fairness without growth. Better health for all – and more equitable opportunity, self worth, mutual respect, and fulfilment - means a acceptable quality of life for all within ecological limits. This includes a much reduced level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, though the development and demographic transition of currently low emitting populations will entail an increase in their own emissions in the short and medium term, as per 3 above.
5. DELAY WILL BE FATAL
Greenhouse gas emissions must be stabilised as a matter of absolute urgency to avoid reaching the “tipping point” of one and a half to two degrees centigrade of global warming âï¿½ï¿½ that is, above the global level at the start of the Industrial Revolution. Beyond this, catastrophic consequences for health are increasingly likely. Any delay in controlling emissions will inevitably cause preventable deaths and damage to health and wellbeing on a massive scale in the next decades.