Climate change has been declared "the greatest public health threat of the 21st century" (The Lancet, 2009). The USA leaving the Paris Agreement is a dangerous threat to the health of both the American people and the global population.
We deeply regret this foolish decision by President Trump, yet we are heartened to see the rest of the world stand together in solidarity for climate action. With the absence of the USA in the Paris Agreement, there is now more pressure than ever for the EU to step up and become a stronger and more ambitious global leader.
HCWH Europe remains committed to working with the healthcare sector to protect public health from climate change. Now more than ever, it is urgent that the healthcare sector strengthens its response to climate change, by reducing its own GHG emissions and building resilient health systems.
Ana-Christina Gaeta, Climate & Resources Policy Officer - Health Care Without Harm Europe
As an organisation committed to promoting the health of people and the environment, Health Care Without Harm disagrees in the strongest possible terms with President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the global Paris Agreement.
The Paris Agreement is a historic and monumental achievement. The result of over two decades of diplomatic negotiations, the climate accord includes participation by nearly every country on the planet. The pledge of member nations to work together to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius is necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate change and to prevent a global health crisis. U.S. leadership is critical to successful implementation of the Agreement, and the decision to withdraw threatens to undermine the Agreement’s effectiveness in solving the climate crisis.
Climate change and pollution from coal-fired power plants pose serious threats to human health. For this reason, physicians who work with Health Care Without Harm are responding to Trump’s announcement with concern.
"For people with respiratory conditions such as asthma and COPD and those with cardiovascular diseases, the quality of the air they breathe is critical to their survival,” said Dr. Emily Senay, Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “To save lives from natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, and heat and to protect our children from the consequences of a warming planet, we must do all we can to move away from fossil fuels. The United States must take the lead to create a future that is cleaner and healthier and therefore must remain in the Paris Climate Agreement. Our health depends on the health of our air and water, and our actions have immediate consequences and as physicians we must do all we can to protect our environment."
As Gary Cohen, Co-founder and President of Health Care Without Harm explains, despite Trump’s decision, health care systems are motivated to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions and will work with local and state leaders to advance the progress that has already been made:
“Trump’s rejection of the Paris Agreement demonstrates his fundamental defense of the fossil fuel industry and places the United States alone and in opposition to the defense of our children and the future health of the planet. The good news is that progress on climate solutions will continue to accelerate as cities, hospitals, schools, and businesses are increasingly showing the way toward a low-carbon future."
Addressing the climate crisis is integral to advancing the health care sector’s healing mission. While the Trump Administration rolls back U.S. climate leadership in the global community, it is crucial that the health sector continues to take action on mitigation efforts, planning for adaptation, and building community resilience, and be the trusted messenger on the intersection of climate and health.
Preview image: Moyan Brenn cc