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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Health experts urge Biden to ‘go big’ on nation’s climate change commitment

On behalf of the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health – a consortium of 32 national medical societies organised by the Centre for Climate Change Communication of the George Mason University – Mason 4C faculty members Drs. Mona Sarfaty and Ed Maibach released a public letter to President Joe Biden urging him to “go big” as he considers the climate commitment that America will make later this year at the COP26 in Glasgow, for the sake of the health of every American.

Nearly 50 additional health organisations including the American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Physicians, American Lung Association, American Medical Association, Health Care Without Harm, National Association of Social Workers, and the National League for Nursing have thus far also endorsed the letter. Excerpts:

Joe Biden
US President Joe Biden

Dear President Biden,

We offer you our most sincere gratitude for having moved swiftly to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. In our view, the importance of rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement was not just about preventing rapidly escalating health harms from climate change. It’s also about seizing this public health crisis and turning it into a major public health opportunity – because climate solutions have immediate, as well as long term, health benefits.

Accelerating the inevitable transition to clean, renewable energy will allow all Americans to breathe cleaner air and drink cleaner water. Climate-friendly approaches to agriculture, soil management and forests will improve the quality of our food, water and air. Rebuilding our communities to be greener, cooler, and more-energy efficient, and transportation systems to be more pedestrian- and bike-friendly, and building, maintaining, and funding affordable mass transit will help people live more active, healthier lives, and increase America’s resilience to the impacts of climate change. In addition to being what’s necessary to limit climate change, every one of these steps will improve the health of all Americans, save lives, and reduce health costs – and will do so rapidly.

Every one of these steps, if implemented thoughtfully, can also help to create a fairer, more equitable, and more prosperous America. They are an opportunity to begin the process of ending environmental injustice that has for so long harmed the health of people in low-income communities and communities of color. And they are an opportunity to create good, sustainable jobs that are an important foundation of good health and financial security.

As you consider the climate commitments that America will make later this year at COP-26 meeting in Glasgow – our Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in the parlance of the Paris Agreement – we urge you to “go big” for our climate, and for our health.

America’s health professionals will work tirelessly with you and your Administration, and with all future Presidents and their Administrations, to help America deliver on ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions. Doing so is one of the most important ways we can help ensure the good health and wellbeing of all Americans.

The work of the climate community and the work of the health community are, in fact, a single project. Working together, we can implement solutions that improve our health and the health of our planet.

Most respectfully,

Mona Sarfaty, MD MPH and

Edward Maibach, MPH PhD

Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health

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