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RCEM declares Climate Emergency

14 November 2019

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine today declares a Climate Emergency.

Chair of the College’s new Environmental Special Interest Group, Dr Sandy Robertson, said: “In light of today’s policy brief which draws on data from the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change we’re declaring a climate emergency and are pleased to launch the College’s special interest group to help tackle it.

“There is scientific consensus that our climate is changing and that this is linked to human activities.

“The air pollution and increased frequency of adverse heat events caused by the burning of fossil fuels lead to higher rates of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases and mental health crises, all of which will impact on the already overstretched emergency care system.

“Our expertise is in recognising, prioritising and treating emergency conditions. We recognise that climate change is a healthcare emergency and needs urgent treatment to ensure the continued wellbeing of the whole global community.”
In declaring the Climate Emergency, the College has:

  1. Created an Environmental Special Interest Group to guide the College and speciality in becoming more environmentally sustainable whilst maintaining excellent practice.
  2. Set a goal of Carbon Neutrality by 2040 or sooner with the environmental specialist interest group to create a detailed action plan on how we do this.
  3. Financially divested from fossil fuels.

The College also today co-launches The Lancet Countdown policy briefing alongside the Royal College of General Practitioners. The report provides a summary of the impacts of climate change on the health of the UK and three recommendations on how best to tackle it. Dr Robertson said: “We’re delighted to co-launch this vital briefing and we urge the government to note its recommendations.”

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