Doctors have welcomed the Government’s step towards phasing out ‘unabated’ coal-powered energy generation by 2025.
The step was made by the prime minister Theresa May following pressure to do so from the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change of which the BMA was a founding member.
In a response to a Government consultation the alliance had warned of the impacts on health of air pollution, including heart disease, stroke and lung cancer.
It said: ‘As a major driver of climate change – in the UK and around the world – coal also damages human health indirectly, increasing the frequency and severity of extremes of weather like floods and heatwaves; altering the pattern and distribution of infectious disease; and threatening the environmental determinants of health that underpin our patients’ well-being.’
‘Unabated’ coal is defined by the Government as the ‘generation of electricity from a coal plant without any treatment to reduce substantially the emissions of carbon dioxide’.
Royal College of GPs chair Helen Stokes-Lampard said the Government’s ‘position of leadership’ on coal phase-out came amid signs other countries were following suit.
‘GPs are usually the first port of call for patients with long-term health conditions and we are often left picking up the pieces from this pollution, treating the conditions that dirty air promotes,’ she added.
Details of how the phase-out will be implemented are due to be announced next month.
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