Observations Global Warming

Call for urgent action on climate change

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d6760 (Published 18 October 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d6760

On 17 October leading health professionals and experts in international security met at a BMJ conference in London on the health and security implications of climate change. They issued a statement calling on governments around the world to prioritise efforts to tackle the causes and effects of climate change.

Specifically they urge:

  • The European Union to unconditionally agree a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions domestically by 30% by 2020 and to prepare further targets towards 2050 that would incentivise the decarbonisation of the economy

  • Developed countries to adopt more ambitious targets on greenhouse gas reduction, to increase their support for low carbon development, and to invest in further research into the effects of climate change on health and security

  • Developing countries to identify the key ways in which climate change threatens health and democratic governance and to undertake mitigation and adaptation activities, including through supported and unsupported nationally appropriate mitigation actions

  • All governments to enact legislative and regulatory change to stop the building of new coal fired power stations and to phase out the continuing operation of existing plants, prioritising those using the most polluting (and thus health damaging) lignite coal

  • All parties at the climate change conference in Durban on 28 November to 9 December 2011 to strive to adopt an ambitious agreement on greenhouse gas reduction that is consistent with the target of restricting the global temperature rise to 2°C (or, more safely, 1.5°C) above preindustrial levels

  • Establishment of a mechanism to ensure that all people can share equitably the benefits of a safe atmosphere without penalising those with the least historical responsibility for climate change

  • All governments to incorporate the UN Security Council’s presidential statement from 20 July 2011 on the potential consequences of climate change on security into their short and long term security planning

  • All governments to strive to adopt climate change mitigation targets and policies that are more ambitious than their international commitments.


Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d6760