Intended for healthcare professionals


Combating climate change

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 18 November 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h6178
  1. Nick Watts, director 1,
  2. Robin Stott, cochair 2,
  3. Anne Marie Rafferty, professor of nursing policy 3
  1. 1UK Health Professionals Alliance to Combat Climate Change
  2. 2Climate and Health Council, London, UK
  3. 3Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery, King’s College London, London UK
  1. Correspondence to R Stott stott{at}

Health professional bodies unite for a fairer and healthier world

The second half of the 20th century brought renewed understanding of the links between human wellbeing and environmental systems. In 1988 the United Nations formed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), charged with documenting the effects of climate change and formulating realistic strategies for action. Its first report led to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992. Unfortunately, since then neither humanity nor the planet have fared well. The Stockholm Resilience Centre has identified nine planetary boundaries within which humanity can develop and continue to thrive,1 and we have already crossed five. These are extinction rates, greenhouse gas emissions, change in land use, phosphorous and nitrogen cycles, and ocean acidification. In addition, we are pushing at the limits of three more—fresh water supply, air pollution, and novel pollutants.

The evidence of adverse effects is incontrovertible, as is the need for urgent action. More frequent and more severe natural disasters, instability in food and water supply, the spread of infectious disease, and forced migration are already affecting human health and provide a …

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