Earlier this week, COP26 President Alok Sharma delivered a speech in Glasgow to mark six months since the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference. He opened the speech quoting a question asked by poet and UNHRC Goodwill Ambassador Emi Mahmoud, “If you could stop the climate tragedy unfolding further you would, wouldn’t you?”

He reflected on the current crises the world is experiencing – war, political instability, an energy crisis, mounting debt, food insecurity, the pandemic – as reasons to increase, not diminish our determination to deliver on the Glasgow Pact: to forge a path to a clean, green future that keeps alive the possibility of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5C. He said that failure to honour the commitments made would be “an act of monstrous self-harm”.

The day after his speech, a study published in Environmental Research Letters and reported on in the Guardian found that 40% of fossil fuels already developed must stay in the ground to have a 50-50 chance of global temperature rise stopping at 1.5C. Previous research in Nature has also shown that the world already has more fossil fuel power stations than needed, and the International Energy Agency has called for an end to all new fossil fuel development.

It is disappointing that despite these stark warnings and commitments, the UK Government’s recently published energy strategy includes plans for new licencing for new North Sea oil and gas projects expected to launch this autumn. This is inconsistent with our own call to the government for an end to all subsidies and investments in fossil fuels with greater focus on cheaper, cleaner power sources.

As Alok Sharma said, “Investing in fossil fuels will only risk stranded assets, and the potential of renewables is extraordinary.” Some governments including Denmark, Costa Rica, France, Ireland and California have already committed to stop issuing new fossil fuel licences. We encourage the UK government to do the same.


Have your say

Environment Targets Consultation Toolkit

Asthma+Lung UK have launched an Environment Act consultation tool to enable individuals to submit responses to the government’s consultation on environmental targets. It is critical that the voice of health professionals contribute to the overall response, and we do encourage you to take a few minutes to access the toolkit and submit your response.

The toolkit has been designed to provide helpful background information on the key questions – of which there are only four. There is also opportunity to answer a few other questions, if you want to input further but this is optional. It only takes a few minutes and is very simple to use.

The view of UK Health Alliance on Climate Change is that the target of 10mcg/m3 by 2040 lacks ambition and is not strong enough to achieve healthy air for all – evidence suggests that with existing and in the pipeline policies already in place, the 10cmg/m3 target could be achieved by 2030. Air pollution is a health emergency the government must act on. We don’t have time to delay until 2040. We must take steps to reduce levels now and set proper legal targets for 2030.

The Consultation on environmental targets opened on 16 March 2022. The initial deadline has been extended to 27 June 2022 to allow individuals and organisations to digest the evidence reports that support the consultation.

GMC Good Medical Practice

A review of the GMC Good Medical Practice is currently ongoing. The GMC standards team are also looking at education standards, outcomes and other levers to better understand how they can pick up on critical issues in sustainability in medical education and training.

The climate and ecological crises present significant threats to human health, with many of these health impacts already being experienced. Our healthcare systems are both vulnerable and culpable and the health community has a role to play in leading the transformational change that is needed to protect our health service and the people it serves.

The GMC GMP review provides an opportunity to ensure sustainability and climate change impacts for health are incorporated by proposing recommendations to the GMP that encourages and delivers sustainable practice in healthcare.

The consultation is open to everyone – it opened on 28 April 2022 and closed on 20 July 2022.


Get involved

How much do you know about food systems? Survey

The Global Alliance for the Future of Food is an alliance of philanthropic foundations working to transform global food systems now and for future generations. Over the last two years, the Global Alliance has been focusing on the ‘food-health nexus’ to amplify the fundamental role that food systems play in creating health and well-being in all ecosystems, human and non-human communities.

For food systems to deliver better health, collaboration between food and health sectors will be essential. Building on momentum in the climate and health movement, the Global Alliance and partners are now conducting a survey to explore food systems knowledge among health sector professionals, and to help identify opportunities for future collaboration. The survey is available in EnglishFrenchSpanishGerman, and  Portuguese and will be open until Friday 28 May. The findings will be analysed and shared ahead of the High Level Political Forum in July. TAKE THE SURVEY HERE

Healthy Climate Future campaign

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians has launched a Healthy Climate Future campaign in collaboration with nine other medical colleges, representing over 100,000 doctors

Developed for the Australian Federal elections, the campaign provides their members with tools and information to contact their local MP, share the campaign asks and speak about why climate change and health is an important issue this election.

While the campaign material has been developed for the Australian elections, it contains lots of valuable information and content that will be relevant more broadly. It’s also a great example of how to develop and sharing lobbying material and messaging for election campaigning.


Opportunities

International Climate Director & International Sustainability Director

Health Care Without Harm is hiring two senior International Directors to help shape the health sector’s decarbonisation, sustainability and equity agenda in dozens of countries at a global level.

HCWH are searching for dynamic candidates with a diversity experience from either the health sector, or from the climate/environment sector, or ideally, both. They are looking for committed, articulate individuals with strong international backgrounds who have worked across cultures and continents, who can manage large and growing programs, and who can engage at a high level with governments, UN agencies, health leaders and civil society organizations. The job can be located anywhere, although the ideal candidate would be situated within close reach of time zones in the Americas, Europe and Africa.

Further information about the roles can be found via the links below:

NIHR funding

The National Institute of Health and Care Research (NIHR) has issued a cross-programme call for research to support the delivery of a more sustainable UK health and care system, including mitigating the effects of climate change on health and care delivery. This is an exciting opportunity to shape the future of net zero health and care research, and will highlight its relevance and importance to researchers and the broader system.

We’ve collated the following NIHR managed research programmes that will most relevant to you:

The Health and Social Care Delivery Research Programme (HSDR) seeks evaluative research of existing and/or new initiatives to reduce carbon emissions in care pathways and services, including implementation or service re-design models. Evaluation should not be focused on a single local site but should be more generalisable and therefore multi-site with a view to learning at a national level. This call would be most appropriate for clinicians undertaking QI projects or organisational studies that could be implemented across multiple sites or at a national level. Applications close 25 May.

The Invention for Innovation  (i4i) Programme supports the preclinical and clinical development of medical technologies in areas of existing or emerging patient need. The  programme is a translational research funding scheme aimed at de-risking early-to-late stage medical devices, in vitro diagnostics, and high-impact patient-focused digital health technologies for ultimate NHS use. Proposals should contribute to reducing and/or eliminating carbon emissions, and address the objectives set in the Delivering a Net Zero NHS report. This call would be most appropriate for clinical entrepreneurs, particularly those developing innovations that clearly address specific carbon intensive health and care pathways, while considering the life cycle assessment of the proposed innovation.  Applications close 1 June.

The Research for Patient Benefit  programme funds health, public health, and social care research covering a wide range of health service challenges. The programme offers researchers considerable flexibility to focus on any subject area, topics and research methodologies that support the day-to-day practice of health service and social care staff, including effectiveness of NHS service delivery to reach net zero. This call would be particularly relevant to clinicians who are researching net zero clinical interventions, assessing the effectiveness/ cost-effectiveness of net zero interventions and researching the provision of NHS services. Applications close 3 July.

The NIHR Academy is also part of this themed call, with two programmes that include a pre-doctoral fellowship scheme – the NIHR Fellowships Programme and the Integrated Clinical Academic (ICA) Programme. These calls would be most appropriate for clinicians or academic staff who have completed at least one degree and are interested in becoming leading researchers in sustainability and net zero research. PhD funding is not offered under this programme. Applications close in July – date TBC.


Events

A Prescription for Climate Action

9.00-17.00 | Sunday 22 May 2022 | Online and in person at Royal Geographical Society, London

A free international conference on sustainable healthcare hosted by Eco Medics, a non-profit organisation dedicated to educating healthcare professionals about the climate crisis and sustainable healthcare. Accredited by the faculty of Public Health for 5 CPD points. Register here

COP26 Legacy Series: Building our COP26 legacy with eyes on COP27

18.00-19.30 | Thursday 26 May | online

The final webinar in the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh’s COP26 legacy series will examine what needs to happen so that clinical practice is delivered in a climate sensitive and adaptive manner, and the power of international and local partnerships to bring about change. The webinar is free to attend and open to all. Further details are available here: https://events.rcpe.ac.uk/cop26-legacy-series-building-our-cop26-legacy-eyes-cop27

Climate change, a health emergency: what the IPCC says about health, and why its important for COP27

14.00-15.30 CET| Monday 30 May | online

This webinar will unpack the IPCC AR6 reports and the implications of climate action for human health, and the responses needed at COP27 to ensure the benefits of healthy climate action are maximised. It explores how a health lens can help accelerate the urgency of climate mitigation and maximise resilience outcomes. Register here

Achieving net zero conference London

07-08 June 2022 | The Science Museum, London

This free two day conference organised by CBI will provide insights into how the UK’s net zero strategy must adapt in the current global economic context, hear practical advice from decarbonisation experts, and contributions from company leaders and policy makers.

Further details here: https://www.cbi.org.uk/events/conference-series-achieving-net-zero-2022/

President’s webinar: Climate Change and Sustainability – College response

18.00-19.30 | Wednesday 08 June 2022 | online

The first in a series of President’s webinars that will lead to the Annual President’s Conference on 16 November 2022. This webinar will welcome five speakers passionate about sustainability and green initiatives in the areas of Medicine, Surgery, Dentistry, Travel Medicine and Podiatry with a focus on coming together for an evening or true multidisciplinary learning. Register here

Building on the Healthy Climate Prescription

This series of webinars build on the Healthy Climate Prescription and offer context about the UNFCCC processes. Spanish language interpretation will be available for this webinar series:

  • Big meetings, Big expectations A report back on Stockholm +50 and the UNFCCC Intersessional 23 June @ 15:00 UK – Register here
  • Fossil Fuel Phase Out and the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation TreatyDate TBC, but if you register for the time that you want, we will confirm with you once the date is available. Time A – 08:00 UK – Register here / Time B – 15:00 UK – Register here
  • Financing Deep Dive28 July @ 15:00 UK – Register here
  • Health Systems Deep Dive 25 August @ 15:00 UK – Register here

Articles and videos

We’ve pulled together a list of recent articles and videos that are worth reading, watching and sharing.

This Guardian article reports on a new study that says fossil fuel production sites need to shut down early to avoid climate chaos. The research published in Environmental Research Letters analysed a database of more than 25,000 oil and gas fields and found that fields and mines that have already been developed would provide 25 years of global emissions at today’s rate.

The poem by world champion poet, Emtithal Mahmoud, released at COP26 is worth sharing again and again. If you only click on one thing from this newsletter, click on this one.

In this guest blog, UKHACC Executive Committee member Terry Kemple asks what needs to be done about the eco-toxicity of medical pharmaceuticals.

This BMJ Paediatrics review piece reports that climate change is driving a public mental health crisis that disproportionately, and unjustly, affects the world’s young people, and calls on the medical community to do more.

This Lancet Planetary Health report paints a devastating picture of air pollution which causes 9 million premature deaths a year, and says little progress is being made to stop it.

A useful and important summary of the IPCC report for all those interested in actions we need to take to protect health from climate change produced by the Global Climate and Health Alliance and the Climate and Health Alliance of Australia.

In this guest blog, Jeremy Leach, a co-founder of Action Vision Zero, and Amy Aeron-Thomas, Action Vision Zero Roads Policing Campaign Coordinator, write about progress and opportunities for health and transport to work together to create more sustainable, healthier, and happier communities.


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If you’ve got information about resources, campaigns, or events you would like to be included in the next edition, please send them to elaine.mulcahy@ukhealthalliance.org . The next bulletin will be published on 17 June 2022.