Doctors agreed a wider healthcare alliance was needed to ensure the health benefits of reducing greenhouse gases were incorporated into health and social policy.
They also supported calls for a more environmentally friendly BMA.
Exeter retired GP Jane Richards said the BMA should engage with and lead other healthcare bodies to draw greater attention to the health aspects of climate change.
She cited the Lancet Commission’s description of climate change as ‘the greatest threat to human health of the 21st century’ and pointed out fossil fuels had been identified as contributing negatively to many health issues, including diabetes and heart disease.
‘Reducing greenhouse gases will therefore have health and economic benefits, but health aspects and impacts are less well identified and accepted by the general public,’ said Dr Richards.
‘It is now time to reduce our reliance our reliance on [fossil fuels].
Move to renewables
Doctors at the BMA annual representative meeting supported the organisation’s move to electricity suppliers that are 100 per cent renewable.
The BMA was also asked to consider transferring its investments from energy companies whose primary business relied on fossil fuels to those providing renewable energy sources.
However, Sheffield consultant psychiatrist Paul Miller warned moving the BMA’s investment portfolio away from companies whose business relied on fossil fuels would cost the association ‘millions in years to come’.
He urged fellow doctors to consider the proportion of energy companies making up the FTSE 100 share index and said disinvesting would mean being limited to investing in banks and ‘big pharma’.
‘[Those] running costs and annual charges are considerably greater than funds we already hold,’ he added.
The BMA has been a member of the international organisation the Climate and Health Council since 2009.
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