We are at a critical juncture in our collective response to climate change, and the implications for human health are immense. Around the world, we are already seeing the effects from heat waves, extreme storms, flooding, wildfires. As the UN’s IPCC Special Report on 1.5C made starkly clear, to avoid potentially catastrophic warming we must cut greenhouse gas emissions dramatically, achieving net zero emissions by 2050. This requires swift, concerted worldwide action, across all sectors.
Health professionals increasingly see the impacts of climate change on our patients and communities, and we realize this requires intervention both within and beyond the clinic. Among the most trusted voices in society, doctors, nurses, public health professionals and health organizations can make a vital difference, garnering public and decision-maker support for ambitious climate policies. Our involvement is essential, too, to ensure that climate policies deliver the maximum co-benefits for health and protect the most vulnerable.
The Global Climate and Health Alliance, made up of health and development organizations at the forefront of this movement, has for nearly a decade convened health civil society to tackle climate change and to protect and promote public health. Alliance members are united by a shared vision of an equitable, sustainable future, where the health impacts of climate change are minimized and health co-benefits of climate mitigation are maximized.
As health professionals, we have both the capacity, and the responsibility, to help turn the tide on climate change.