Intended for healthcare professionals

Editorials Christmas 2018

Medical organisations must divest from fossil fuels

BMJ 2018; 363 doi: (Published 12 December 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;363:k5163
  1. Adam Law, board president1,
  2. Deidre Duff, fossil fuel free health lead2,
  3. Patrick Saunders, visiting professor of public health3,
  4. John Middleton, president4,
  5. David McCoy, professor of global public health5
  1. 1PSE Healthy Energy, Ithaca, NY, USA
  2. 2Medact, London, UK
  3. 3University of Staffordshire, Stoke on Trent, UK
  4. 4Faculty of Public Health, London, UK
  5. 5Queen Mary University, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to: D McCoy d.mccoy{at}

Rapid divestment would break our dangerous dependence on this industry

The UK’s largest medical royal college, the Royal College of General Practitioners, recently committed to fossil fuel divestment. It joins several other healthcare organisations that are divesting, including the American Medical Association, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, the Canadian Medical Association, the Australian Medical Students’ Association, the UK Faculty of Public Health, and the British Psychological Society.

Evidence that fossil fuels pose serious threats to public and planetary health is overwhelming. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently reported that “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented” action is required to limit global warming to 1.5°C.1 Exceeding this will have catastrophic effects on human health.

The fossil fuel industry has a long record of undermining climate science and continues to spread misinformation and obstruct climate action.23 Fossil fuels are a major contributor to air pollution, killing seven million people every year.4 WHO estimates that air pollution is responsible for one third of deaths from stroke, …

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