Health professionals have added their voices to calls on the Prime Minister to urgently adopt a target to cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero.
In an open letter to Theresa May, the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change urged the Government to set a target to reach net zero emissions before 2050.
The alliance, which represents 650,000 healthcare professionals, points to the Government’s advisory Committee on Climate Change which recently called for a new legal target for a 100% cut in greenhouse gases by 2050.
Emissions would have to be largely eliminated from electricity generation, transport and heating, while any remaining pollution by 2050 will need to be offset through measures to capture carbon such as planting trees.
The health alliance said the committee’s report showed the net zero target was economically feasible.
It said: “It also highlights the savings that can be made if the target is adopted earlier rather than later, alongside the huge public health benefits of cutting fossil fuel-driven air pollution and encouraging more active lifestyles.”
The letter comes after a survey by YouGov for the alliance revealed that nearly four-fifths (79%) of healthcare professionals agreed the UK should cut its emissions to zero in the next few decades.
The alliance is formed from the UK’s major health institutions, including medical and nursing royal colleges, faculties, the British Medical Association, and medical journals the BMJ and the Lancet.
Nicky Philpott, director of the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change, said: “The recent emphasis on poor air quality is just the latest example of how climate change is negatively impacting our health.
“By committing to net zero we can stop these impacts from becoming catastrophic.”
Professor Dame Parveen Kumar, chairwoman of the BMA board of science, said: “Given the significant threat that climate change poses to the health of the nation, reducing greenhouse gas emissions is an urgent priority and leaders must take action now to offset any further damage.
“The Government has a responsibility to protect the health of the population and must take the large-scale, necessary measures to implement energy efficient infrastructure, such as environmentally friendly transport, so that we can reach net zero as soon as possible.”
The call comes after comes after leading climate scientists urged Mrs May to swiftly put a target to cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero into national law.
The group of experts wrote to the Prime Minister urging her to enshrine a net zero target in law as a act of global leadership and a “worthy legacy” of her premiership.