UK Health Alliance on Climate Change

The UK Health Alliance on Climate Change brings together doctors, nurses and other health professionals to advocate for responses to climate change that protect and promote public health.

#ALLCONSUMING: Building a Healthier Food System for People & Planet

A new, UKHACC-commissioned YouGov survey shows that two-thirds of health professionals agree that dietary changes which reduce the climate impact food can also improve health. In a new policy paper, the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change has published its recommendations for Government actions designed to promote this transition in the UK.

On Wednesday 4 November, the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change (UKHACC) published its suite of recommendations in the paper: ‘All-consuming: building a healthier food system for people and planet’.

Read / Download our Food Paper Now

Most activity to mitigate climate change has focused on decarbonising energy and transport, but it’s now widely recognised that it will be impossible to keep global temperatures at safe levels unless there is a transformation in the way the world produces and consumes food, which makes up over a quarter (26%) of total global greenhouse gas emissions.

UKHACC’s survey shows strong support for change, with 40% of UK health professionals reporting that they have already changed their diet/eating habits due to environmental concerns.

While it will be necessary for individuals and organisations to change their behaviour to reduce food’s contribution to the climate emergency, and the NHS in England has recently set a target to become carbon neutral by 2040. However, UKHACC believes that the Government must do more to encourage, enable and support these changes. The Alliance’s recommendations include:

  • Advice & Information – Existing public information campaigns on diet should include climate messages, and health professionals & patients should be supported with clear, accessible information on transitioning to a climate-friendly diet.
  • Food Labelling – Commission independent research into the most effective form of environmental labelling to implement to support consumers to make sustainable choices.
  • Public Procurement – Amend public procurement rules to require all procured food to meet minimum environmental standards – using purchasing power to shift the market.
  • Food Policy After Brexit – New trade agreements must include a clause requiring imports to meet UK environmental standards.

Henry Dimbleby, Independent Lead of the National Food Strategy, said:
“COVID-19, painful though it is, could pale into insignificance compared to the turbulence created by climate change and the collapse in biodiversity. Healthcare professionals have an important role in shaping our diets and I am very pleased to see their recommendations cover not only our health, but that of our planet too – and that they consider the broader influences on our food system

For more information read more here, or download the full paper using the button above.

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Our Principles for a #HealthyRecovery

Coronavirus has shown the strength of the world’s united health community. But, as we come through this, it’s vital that we don’t lurch from one health crisis to another, driven by climate change and environmental degradation. The world needs is a #HealthyRecovery – one that improves human health, and builds resilience in health systems, and in the environment upon which our health depends.

In a collaboration between medical experts amongst our membership, and climate scientists at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, we’ve developed six principles which the UK government must follow in designing and delivering their post-Covid economic recovery package to ensure a #HealthyRecovery.

We’ve presented our principles in an open letter to the Prime Minister and the leaders of the devolved nations, as well as to leading figures in the cabinet and opposition.

Prioritise health for people & planet. Every decision should be assessed in relation to its impact on health and climate, as much as on the economy. Measures should exceed existing commitments to protecting health and the environment. Let’s strengthen standards, not sacrifice them.

Build a resilient & sustainable economy. Rather than seeking to return to how things were six months ago, the government’s recovery measures must increase the resilience of our economy, and of our key services, social systems, population health and environment.

Accelerate carbon reduction. Recovery must be consistent with the government’s commitment to achieve carbon net-zero in the UK by at least 2050. Rather than simply avoiding carbon intensive sectors, investment must be targeted on low carbon and carbon reduction industries.

Reduce health inequalities. Covid-19 has revealed further health inequalities in the UK, and reminds us that crises do not affect everyone equally. The same is true of climate change. The government take this opportunity to close the gaps through their recovery package.

Follow the science. Recovery should draw on the insights of health and climate scientists, as well as economists. Health professionals have protected our health in the crisis, now the government must engage with them to safeguard it against the growing threat of climate change.

Recovery is everyone’s responsibility. Covid-19 has shown our capacity for collaboration across sectors. Businesses, public services, and communities have all stepped up to respond. Our recovery also needs to draw on all of the talent our country has to offer – not least from the health community.

Read more about our principles and priority actions