We are asking all health professionals to vote with climate change and health in mind on December 12th.
Time is running out. There is a climate emergency and we have only a few years left to keep global warming at safer levels, beyond which we may cross tipping points and activate feedback loops it is near impossible to reverse.
This year, 2019, may well be the year the world’s collective consciousness was finally awoken to the reality of the climate and ecological emergency and the pressing need to act decisively.
Many social movements have begun to appear and raise their voices to protest at the lack of political leadership on this, the defining issue of our time.
This includes an increasing number of health professionals, who are clear that the climate emergency is a health emergency and are demanding decisive action from organisations and political leaders.
Impacts of climate change, including extreme weather events, spread of infectious diseases and food and water insecurity, will effect the vulnerable the most.
Whilst the UK government has declared a climate emergency, the underpinning policy ambition to respond to this remains unclear and ill defined. The UK is not on target to meet its international obligations under the Paris Agreement.
There is a strong social justice argument that due to high historic emissions, the UK should go faster and further on its commitment to achieve net zero.
The 2019 General Election presents an opportunity to influence this and may be our last chance to vote for decisive and timely action on the climate emergency.
We are a group of UK health professionals who have come together to highlight the link between health and climate. We have worked to scrutinise manifestos of the main political parties in England, Scotland and Wales and score them on their commitments relating to climate and health.
With reference to the Lancet Countdown and UK Health Alliance on Climate Change policy recommendations, we developed a list of policy areas, which was refined through discussion and a shortlist agreed.
Each manifesto was scored independently on our final five criteria of clean air, low carbon economy, transport, food & farming, and green homes. We have produced an infographic demonstrating how party manifesto commitments do on plans to tackle the climate and health emergency.
We hope that readers in public health and beyond can use this, along with knowledge of their local area, to inform their decision on who to vote for to have the best chance of tackling the climate emergency.
Good health for our families, our patients our communities and our population depend on a stable climate and healthy ecosystems. The next Government’s policies must reflect these pressing concerns.
We are asking all health professionals to vote with climate change and health in mind on December 12th, and - even more importantly - to encourage their colleagues and others within their sphere of influence to do so as well.
This article is written by Dr Sarah Gentry and Dr Ruth Speare in conjuction with Dr Yas Barzin, Dr Isobel Braithwaite, Dr Anya Göpfert, Dr Chris Newman, Alexander Crane, Michael Baldwin, Dr Oytun Babacan (Imperial College London) and Dr Iain Staffell (Imperial College London).