Senior doctors from across the globe have come together to form the International Climate and Health Council. Their aim is to mobilise health professionals across the world to help tackle the health effects of climate change.
The Council will be officially launched on Wednesday 25 November 2009 to coincide with a series of papers being published by the Lancet on the public health impact of strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.
Founding members include Professor Ian Gilmore, President of the Royal College of Physicians, Sir Muir Gray, Director of the Campaign for Greener Health Care, Dr Hamish Meldrum, Chairman of Council at the British Medical Association, Dr Fiona Godlee, Editor in Chief of the British Medical Journal and Lancet Editor, Dr Richard Horton.
Together with colleagues from Australia, Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas, they are calling for urgent government-led international action to reduce carbon emissions and promote the universal adoption of low carbon sustainable lifestyles.
Failure to agree radical reductions in emissions spells a global health catastrophe, they say.
"Climate change is already causing major health problems," say Professor Mike Gill and Dr Robin Stott, co-chairs of the UK Climate and Health Council. "This is the first step towards a global network of health professionals which by speaking out has the potential to protect and improve the health of people in both rich and poor worlds."
"The public places trust in health professionals, and will listen to those who play their part in protecting human health from climate change," they add. "This is why health professionals must put their case forcefully now and after Copenhagen. We must give the world's politicians and policy makers no room for doubt on what action they need to take."
"Politicians may be scared to push for radical reductions in emissions because some of the necessary changes to the way we live won't please voters," says Dr Fiona Godlee, Editor in Chief of the BMJ. "Doctors are under no such constraint. On the contrary we have a responsibility as health professionals to warn people how bad things are likely to get if we don't act now. The good news is that we have a positive message - that what is good for the climate is good for health."