200 health organisations call on governments to phase out fossil fuels

200 health organisations from across the world are urging governments to implement a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty to phase out fossil fuels and protect people’s health.

More than 1,000 health professionals have signed the letter, as well as the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Alliance of Nurses for a Healthy Environment and the World Federation of Public Health Associations.

The group is calling for an end to any new fossil fuel projects and production, a phase out of existing production in line with the 1.5°C climate goal and a fast transition to renewable energy.

They say the climate crisis is a critical health threat, leading to faster transmission of food and water-borne diseases, heat related illness and death and extreme weather events which can cause harm.

white and yellow plastic pack

Air pollution also causes around seven million premature deaths a year, contributing to cancer, heart disease and respiratory conditions, while the climate crisis is taking a considerable toll on mental health.

‘To address existing inequity we call on high-income countries to provide financial, technological and other support to low- and middle-income countries in the move away from fossil fuels, ensuring the transition reduces poverty rather than exacerbating it,’ the letter reads.

The letter also acknowledged that health risks of the climate emergency mostly affect communities who have contributed the least to the crisis, such as populations in the Global South, Indigenous peoples, young people, and people experiencing poverty, disability and discrimination.

‘Expanding access to energy through distributed, resilient and affordable carbon-free renewable energy systems will have health benefits and will maximize energy savings and efficiency. Phasing out fossil fuels would prevent 3.6 million deaths due to ambient air pollution worldwide annually,’ the letter reads. ‘The same cannot be said for proposed false solutions, such as carbon capture and storage, which do little to protect health and introduce new risks.’

‘We know that emissions have to be slashed to limit warming to safe levels, we know fossil fuels are the greatest driver of emissions, and we know that phasing out fossil fuels is the only way to reap many of the health co-benefits of climate mitigation – so why then are governments permitting new drilling, new mining and new pipelines?’ said Liz Hanna, RN, PhD, Chair for Environmental Health of the World Federation of Public Health Associations. ‘The science on this is clear: new fossil fuel development is completely incompatible with a healthy climate and a healthy future.’

Photo by Eelco Böhtlingk


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