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Sophie Cook, Editor in Chief, BMJ Medicine:

Curating a special edition of The BMJ devoted to the issues of climate change came about after we saw the impact the Racism in Medicine edition had on the behaviours within healthcare; conversations of which are still taking place almost a year later.

We want the climate crisis to be taken seriously and for discussions to stay on the agenda long after COP26. We felt this would be achievable with a themed collection that brings together the most impactful articles. We also want those who are in a unique and privileged position to sit up and take more notice, influence change, and take action on the climate crisis. 

@sophiecook80

Juliet Dobson, UK Health Alliance on Climate Change exec member and bmj.com editor

“Climate change has always been important to us at BMJ. Dr Fiona Godlee has been a true figurehead of the movement, steering it with intent through focused editorials, collaborations, and by creating the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change.

We have been publishing editorials on the subject as far back as the 1990s, not just in The BMJ, but across all our journals.” 

 

 

 

“Recently, we coordinated a joint editorial calling on world leaders to take emergency action to transform societies and limit climate change, restore biodiversity, and protect health.

The article was published by over 200 health journals worldwide, of which 50 were BMJ Journals. Others included The Lancet, East African Medical Journal, the Chinese Science Bulletin, New England Journal of Medicine, International Nursing Review, and the National Medical Journal of India.” @Juliet_hd

 

What role did The BMJ play in COP26?

Dr Fiona Godlee and former editor Dr Richard Smith, now Chair of the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change, went to Glasgow for COP26. It was there they took part in panels and spoke about the importance of health professionals being active gatekeepers in the cause for change. 

Fi Godlee, Gisli Jenkins from Thorax, and Ian Wacogne from ADC Education & Practice, and Richard Smith also took part in the Climate Ride – a 500 mile ride for the Climate, coordinated by Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity, involving doctors and other healthcare workers between London and Glasgow. 

 

The BMJ is profoundly concerned with the environmental determinants of health and with the health consequences of environmental damage and neglect. Our editor-in-chief, Dr Fiona Godlee, was one of the founders of the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change, of which The BMJ is a member.

 

Juliet, you recently accepted a seat on the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change executive committee. What attracted you to take part in this movement?

“The Health Alliance on Climate Change was founded in 2016 to lead the UK health professions’ response to climate change. Its members include the medical colleges and faculties, the BMA, The Lancet and The BMJ. We work together to empower health professionals to drive greater action on climate change and engage with decision-makers to protect human health against climate change. We also raise awareness of those links between climate change and the impacts on human health. 

I see a positive story from driving greater action on climate change. It doesn’t just protect our health against the impacts of climate change but also confers an extraordinary opportunity to further human health. This has also led many to conclude that action on climate is the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century. Take active transport for example, cycling or walking encourages more not only to reduce carbon emissions and air pollution but also acts on obesity and other determinants of health, saving the National Health Service money and enabling people to live more active, healthier lives. 

Climate change is a major determinant of human health because it impacts health directly through, for example, extreme weather events like the bush fires we saw in Greece recently, through the flooding and heat waves that we see in the UK. Also, indirectly by undermining the foundations of good health like affecting access to water and affecting our food system the UK.

Meanwhile, we are launching a new online open access multispecialty journal, BMJ Medicine, which will welcome articles that shed further light on the health effects of the climate emergency.”

“BMJ recognises the urgency with which we have to address climate change – for healthier people and the planet, now and in the future. We support the NHS in its roadmap to Net Zero, including working with suppliers to decarbonise.

The BMJ has extensively covered climate change in the past, raising awareness of its impacts and the role of the medical and wider health professions in reducing demand for healthcare, decarbonising health systems, advocating for societal change, and being role models for individual behaviour change. To build on this, we are committing to net zero publishing by 2040 and we will publish additional regular educational content to guide clinicians and researchers on what they can do to tackle climate change.”

Dr Fiona Godlee FRCP Editor in Chief, The BMJ Editorial Director, BMJ

The Recovery – Voices of action towards sustainable healthcare is the new pop-up podcast series from The BMJ and Cochrane Sustainable Healthcare, featuring conversations with people finding new and sometimes radical approaches to wind back medical excess and make health systems healthier in the long run.

The six-part series explores ways to make health systems sustainable. It has been made in partnership with . Listen here today.

The series starts with an introduction from Cochrane Sustainable Health Director Dr. Minna Johansson,  followed by:

 

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