Health Journals Call for Action in Climate Crisis
By: Sydney Sheffield
On September 6, 2021, more than 200 medical journals published an editorial article calling on leaders to take emergency action on climate change to protect health.
The Editorial was written by Editors-In-Chief of East African Medical Journal, Journal of Health, Population, and Nutrition, Danish Medical Journal, PLOS Medicine, The British Journal of Medicine, British Dental Journal, The Lancet, UK Health Alliance on Climate Change, Revista de Saúde Pública, International Journal of Nursing Studies, Canadian Medical Association Journal, Pharmaceutical Journal, Dutch Journal of Medicine, New England Journal of Medicine, National Medical Journal of India, Medical Journal of Australia, International Nursing Review, and Pan American Journal of Public Health.
“The greatest threat to global public health is the continued failure of world leaders to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5°C and to restore nature. Urgent, society-wide changes must be made and will lead to a fairer and healthier world. We, as editors of health journals, call for governments and other leaders to act, marking 2021 as the year that the world finally changes course,” the authors stated.
The article was intentionally published before the UN General Assembly and the Cop26 Climate Summit in Glasgow this November. The timing is critical to urge all countries to deliver enhanced and ambitious climate plans to honor the goals of the Paris Agreement, the international treaty on climate change adopted by 195 countries in 2015. This is the first time so many notable journals have come together to make the same publication.
Seye Abimbola, Editor-in-Chief of BMJ Global Health, said "What we must do to tackle pandemics, health inequities, and climate change is the same - global solidarity and action that recognize that within and across nations our destinies are inextricably linked, just as human health is inextricably linked to the health of the planet."
The Editorial emphasizes that governments must undertake emergency action to transform societies and economies to rapidly reduce global emissions and restore nature and that doing so would have vast positive health benefits. The authors state that sufficient global emergency action can only be achieved if high-income countries do far more to support the rest of the world and to reduce their consumption.
The COVID-19 pandemic is also acknowledged, but the authors are firm that action on the climate and nature crisis cannot wait for the pandemic to end. The Editorial’s main message is that the climate and nature crisis is the greatest threat to global public health.
Read the Editorial here.