Intended for healthcare professionals


Assessing the health benefits of tackling climate change

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 19 October 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d6520
  1. Anita Charlesworth, chief economist1,
  2. Alastair Gray, professor of health economics2,
  3. David Pencheon, director3,
  4. Nicholas Stern, IG Patel professor of economics and government 4
  1. 1Nuffield Trust, London, UK
  2. 2Health Economics Research Centre, Department of Public Health, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  3. 3NHS Sustainable Development Unit, Cambridge CB21 5XB, UK
  4. 4Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK
  1. david.pencheon{at}

Robust measures and interdisciplinary collaboration are needed

Health systems around the world are not short of big challenges, such as managing demand; containing cost; improving access, quality, and transparency; embracing new technology, and engaging patients and the public. More recent challenges to add to this list include population growth; competition for the limited resources of energy, food, and water; and increasingly serious climate change.1 If these problems are left unchecked and unmanaged collaboratively at a global level, compelling evidence shows that this could result in economic and social breakdown, migration, and conflict.2 3 Evidence suggests that these urgent emerging problems could provide an opportunity for health professionals and health systems to also tackle the more traditional challenges that health systems face.

Fortunately, actions that can help mitigate climate change over the longer term can also improve individual and global health now.4 For example, over-consumption of red processed meat is not good for …

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