The University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine is joining many other healthcare organisations (Health Declares) in declaring that the global climate and ecological emergency is a major crisis for health and healthcare.
We agree with recent statements from the WHO and in The Lancet that climate change is an urgent global health threat. Extreme weather events are likely to become much worse, leading to greater morbidity and mortality through multiple mechanisms: changing patterns of vector, food and waterborne disease; damage to crops, homes and sanitation systems; reduced water security; and mass migration. Health sciences and healthcare systems must be part of the answer to these and other challenges in future, but they are currently also part of the problem, with significant climate and ecological impacts directly attributable to our current ways of working in the sector.
In Cambridge, we will be taking significant action to address the health impacts of the climate emergency, and to improve the sustainability of our own work, including reducing our carbon footprint. We will do this together with the wider university plans for improving sustainability and in collaboration with our partner organisations, in particular the NHS Trusts we work alongside. More news will follow as we set up a Climate Change and Sustainability Working Group to coordinate the School of Clinical Medicine’s response to the global climate emergency.