Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Health Organizations Combating Climate Change

Climate change is a health issue and the health care sector is increasingly leading the charge to do something about it.

Climate change causing emissions compromise our health and the health of those we love both now an in the future. These concerns are prompting a number of health organizations to act on climate change and these efforts include divestment from fossil fuels.

It is widely understood that climate change causing emissions are a health issue. Health organizations are increasingly discussing this relationship. This point was made at a panel discussion titled, "Business, Health and Climate," just ahead of the UN summit in New York last fall. The event was organized by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Global Health Institute and the World Health Organization (WHO). Other summits that are making the connection between environment and health include "Greening the Health Sector," a forum organized by Australia the Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) last October.

Health concerns have prompted American nurses to come together to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline. Health issues are also the driving force behind Chinese clean air activism.

There is a seamless connection between health providers and the divestment from fossil fuels movement. This is the point made in an article titled, "Climate Change is a Health Issue and Divestment is the Cure." Last March there was even an editorial in the British Medical Journal calling for divestment and some health charities (Medact and Healthy Planet) in the UK actively advocated divestment.

A number of US, UK and Australian health organizations have moved towards divestment from fossil fuels. In June 2014 the British Medical Association (BMA) moved to transfer its investments in fossil fuels to clean energy. In September the Australian organization the Health Employees’ Superannuation Trust (HESTA), announced a restriction on investments in thermal coal. Also in September Gundersen Health System was among those who opted to freeze investments in fossil fuels as part of their efforts to promote sustainability in healthcare.

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