Climate change ‘is a health emergency’

by Tim Tonkin

The BMA has backed calls for the UK to achieve net-zero carbon emissions, warning that inaction on climate change will take an ‘immeasurable toll’ on global health.

Location: International UK
Published: Thursday 10 September 2020
climate change

The association has reiterated its support for reaching net zero emissions and has called on the Government to take ‘bold and decisive action’ to protect the health and wellbeing of future generations.

The call for action comes following the publication of Climate Assembly UK’s report The Path to Net Zero, which outlines a raft of recommendations detailing how the country can achieve zero-emissions status by 2050, including changes to transport, energy use and production and farming.


Health emergency

Responding to the Climate Assembly UK report on how the UK can reach its legally binding target of net zero emissions by 2050, BMA representative body chair Helena McKeown said: ‘The climate emergency is a health emergency, forging a path to net zero has never been more important. This comprehensive report by the Climate Assembly is an important road map that the Government must acknowledge and shows the true scale of change that is required, across all aspects of our life, to reach this important goal.

‘With the pandemic this year, we have seen the devastating impact of a global health emergency. If we do not take bold and decisive action immediately to work towards net zero the impact of climate change in the near future will wreak havoc on the planet taking an immeasurable toll on the health of people across the globe.

‘The Government must take heed of this report, take action and commit to achieving net zero as soon as possible – the health and quality of life of the next generation and those to come depends on it.’


Air-quality targets

A member of the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change, the BMA has campaigned to raise awareness of the risk to health posed by climate change and would like to see the health service and wider UK society reach net-zero emissions by 2030.  

The association has also called for the Government to adopt more robust air-quality targets – as defined by the World Health Organization – in the Environment Bill and recently published a paper outlining how general practice can be made more sustainable and environmentally friendly.