BMJ and RCP join over 200 health journals to call on world leaders to address “catastrophic harm to health” from climate change
For decades, health professionals and health journals have been warning of the severe and growing impacts on health from climate change and the destruction of nature.
Over 200 health journals across the world, including Knowledge Quarter partners The BMJ and RCP’s ClinMed, have come together to simultaneously publish an editorial calling on world leaders to take emergency action to limit global temperature increases, halt the destruction of nature, and protect health.
Extreme temperatures, destructive weather events, and the widespread degradation of essential ecosystems are just some of the impacts that we are seeing more of due to a changing climate.
These impacts have knock on effects for our health and disproportionately affect the most vulnerable, including children and the elderly, ethnic minorities, poorer communities and those with underlying health conditions.
The editorial urges governments to intervene to transform societies and economies, for example, by supporting the redesign of transport systems, cities, production and distribution of food, markets for financial investments, and health systems.
While recent targets to reduce emissions and conserve biodiversity are welcome, they are not enough and are yet to be matched with credible short and longer term plans, it warns.
The editorial is published in leading titles from every continent including The BMJ, ClinMed, The Lancet, the New England Journal of Medicine, the East African Medical Journal, the Chinese Science Bulletin, the National Medical Journal of India, the Medical Journal of Australia, and 50 BMJ specialist journals including BMJ Global Health and Thorax.
Never have so many journals come together to make the same statement, reflecting the severity of the climate change emergency now facing the world.
The editorial is being published ahead of the UN General Assembly next week, one of the last international meetings taking place before the (COP26) climate conference in Glasgow, UK in November. This is a crucial moment to urge all countries to deliver enhanced and ambitious climate plans to honour the goals of the Paris Agreement, the international treaty on climate change adopted by 195 countries in 2015.
Dr Fiona Godlee, Editor-in-Chief of The BMJ, and one of the co-authors of the editorial, said: “Health professionals have been on the frontline of the covid-19 crisis and they are united in warning that going above 1.5C and allowing the continued destruction of nature will bring the next, far deadlier crisis. Wealthier nations must act faster and do more to support those countries already suffering under higher temperatures. 2021 has to be the year the world changes course – our health depends on it.”