As a coalition of health professionals, we call for urgent action to prevent an increase in mean global temperatures of more than 1.5oC, and to mitigate the worst effects of the climate emergency on environmental and human health.

Now, as an individual or a representative of a health organisation, you can add your voice to this call to send a message to national and international leaders in this critical year of COP26.

The climate crisis is already damaging health through impacts such as extreme weather, polluted air, food and water shortages, forced migration and the aggravation of disease. Like the WHO we recognise the climate emergency as the greatest health threat of the 21st century, but also that urgent climate action has the potential to greatly improve health.

International targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions are currently not sufficient to limit warming to below 1.5°C - a threshold identified by the IPCC beyond which climate-related suffering and deaths will increase dramatically.

This year international targets for reducing emissions will be reviewed at COP26 and, given our commitment to protecting health, we call on governments, civil society and business to take action that will rapidly decarbonise the world economy, support vulnerable populations, enhance biodiversity and help us to adapt and prepare for the inevitable impacts of climate change.

We call for:

  • All countries to achieve net zero emissions by 20401, with countries with high emissions of carbon making much bigger cuts than those with low emissions2
  • Countries with the greatest responsibility for carbon emissions (mostly high income countries) to transfer funds to countries that are most vulnerable to the impacts of the climate crisis, enabling them to adapt and prepare
  • An end to all subsidies and investments in fossil fuels to end whilst ensuring a just transition for fossil fuel workers and equitable access to affordable energy, particularly for those on low incomes
  • All fossil fuel companies to become net zero by 2040
  • All health services to become net zero as soon as possible and before 2040

Add your voice to our call for action:

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1. The ultimate aim must be absolute zero, but net zero means that the carbon that cannot be removed by 2040 can be sequestered. Importantly only internationally validated amounts of sequestered carbon can be considered in net calculations.

2. The necessary actions to meet these commitments are arrived at from the concept of ‘Contraction and Convergence’, which, as with the UNFCCC and the UK Climate Act, is based on principles of precaution and equity. This means that to reach net zero global emissions by 2040 all countries first converge to the average global per capita emissions, then reduce to zero by 2040.

Those countries with high carbon emissions have to make large reductions, whilst most countries with low emissions will have entitlements of increased per capita emissions initially, with all countries reaching net zero by 2040. The implication for a high emitting country like Britain (present average per capita emission 5.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide) is each person rapidly converging to the global average (4.8 tonnes/capita), and then reducing to zero by 2040. This further reduction has to be extremely rapid as the global share of carbon for each Briton is about 0.5 tonnes for each year between 2020 and 2040. The average British home emits 2.7 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year from domestic heating, and a return flight from London to New York emits 1.0 tonne of carbon dioxide.

These examples illustrate the dramatic changes we need to make in how we live, eat, travel, and work to keep below a global temperature increase of 1.5°C.

Read and download our calls to action in full