The Public Health Argument for Fossil Fuel Divestment
There are two primary reasons to divest from fossil fuels: they’re less and less profitable, and they cause more and more harm. The heath impacts of climate change are already clear – doctors around the world are noticing higher rates of asthma, allergies, vector-borne diseases, and certain types of cancer due to increased temperatures and carbon pollution. That’s why an alliance of medical groups in the UK is calling for the health sector to divest from fossil fuels, as this Guardian article explains. Since the health care industry has a moral obligation to protect the public against harm, they shouldn’t be funding companies that put the population at risk.
Divestment is just one way health leaders can take action on climate change. They can also help raise public awareness and advocate for climate solutions. To learn how you can address climate impacts and inspire your organization, check out our Climate for Health program.
Damian Carrington, contributor to the Guardian
The health sector should get rid of its fossil fuel investments on moral grounds, as it previously did with its tobacco investments, according to a report by a coalition of medical organisations.
The report cites climate change as “the biggest global health threat of the 21st century” and says air pollution from fossil fuels also causes millions of premature deaths a year. The organisations argue that the health sector, and in particular the £18bn Wellcome Trust, should not be helping to fund the harm they exist to tackle.
“The link between fossil fuels, air pollution and climate change are clear, and the health impacts are unacceptably high,” said Dr David McCoy, director of health charity Medact, which produced the report with the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare, the Climate and Health Council, Healthy Planet UK, and Medsin. “This report sends an unequivocal message that the health sector should end its financial association with the fossil fuel industry.”
Image credit: Murdo Macleod