Intended for healthcare professionals


What should we do about climate change?

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 09 November 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:983

Health professionals need to act now, collectively and individually

  1. Robin Stott, chair BMJ carbon council1,
  2. Fiona Godlee, editor (
  1. 1Medact, London N19 4DJ
  2. 2BMJ, London WC1H 9JR

Action on climate change has been likened to teenage sex. Everyone claims to be in on the action, but only a few are, and those not very effectively. Given the scientific consensus that global warming—the underlying cause of climate change—is mainly caused by human beings1 2 and its effects are likely to be seriously damaging to global health,3 4 citizens and governments must take much more effective action. This sense of urgency has been confirmed by the Stern report, commissioned by the UK chancellor, Gordon Brown, and published last week.5 It concludes that the cost of doing something to combat climate change is likely to be 1% of global gross domestic product, but the cost of doing nothing will be up to 20% of global gross domestic product. It also concludes that the cost to the environment of each ton of carbon dioxide emitted is £50 (€75; $95), a figure that gives us a financial yardstick of the damage we are doing by our continued reliance on fossil fuels.

Health professionals have a track record of identifying and helping resolve serious public …

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