Letters Climate change

What on earth we can do to tackle climate change

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d7386 (Published 15 November 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d7386
  1. Robin Stott, co-chair1
  1. 1Climate and Health Council, c/o BMJ Group, London WC1H 9JR, UK
  1. stott{at}dircon.co.uk

We know how to combat climate change,1 and several health professional organisations are already engaged, including the Climate and Health Council (www.climateandhealth.org).

Our narrative is that climate change is bad for health, particularly for those living in poor and marginalised communities. Implementing a fair shares solution, which means radically reducing our dependence on fossil fuels while transferring resources to those who have had least responsibility for carbon emissions, will be good for our health. It will provide sufficient resources for the poorer parts of the world to achieve the millennium goals, while shifting richer societies and rich people in poor societies to lead healthier lives. Realigning our diets (less meat, more vegetables) and being more active, both of which will follow from reducing carbon emissions, are also critical in tackling the present epidemic of non-communicable diseases.

So what’s good for the climate is good for health.

Many personal, local, and national initiatives help to move us towards a fair shares society, but we need an overarching global framework to control carbon emissions and synergistically transfer resources to poorer societies in such a way that a low carbon future is in all our financial interest. Contraction and convergence is currently the most feasible option.

We ask health professionals to lead by example. Know the facts; reduce our own carbon emissions and those of the institutions we work in; use our rich networks to get our message out; find creative ways of doing this to gain the support that will enable us to have maximum impact on the political process. Here we must vigorously advocate for a fair shares framework, which means advocating contraction and convergence until we hear of a better option.


Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d7386


  • Competing interests: RS co-chairs the Climate and Health Council, of which Fiona Godlee is a member.


View Abstract

Sign in

Log in through your institution

Free trial

Register for a free trial to thebmj.com to receive unlimited access to all content on thebmj.com for 14 days.
Sign up for a free trial