Climate change, sustainable development and health
It is now established beyond reasonable scientific doubt that the global climate is changing and that this is linked to human activity. Population health research has historically focussed on determinants of human health such as behaviour, heredity, occupation, environmental exposures and health-care access. There is now recognition that health also depends on the “biosphere”, the global systems affecting food and water supplies, the pattern of vectors and infectious diseases as well as the physical safety and comfort of human populations. The stability of the world’s climate system is fundamental to these life-support systems.
There is also evidence that strategies that contribute to healthier lifestyles will also mitigate carbon dioxide production. Doctors and other health care professionals can provide a powerful example to others in reducing carbon emissions and promoting a healthy, sustainable future. The RCGP believes that General Practitioners have a role in raising awareness in relation to climate change and health as well as promoting appropriate lifestyle choices and that this should be seen as part of a wider duty of care.