Leadership

Medical Groups Speak Up for Climate Change

By / Jun 24, 2019 (artisteer/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Climate Health Action, a coalition with the backing of a number of medical associations and other organizations, released a policy agenda this week, just ahead of the first presidential debates.

This week starts the 2020 presidential primary debate season, and the medical industry, right on cue, is making known a key issue on the minds of the people it supports: climate change.

Climate Health Action, a coalition of nearly 75 medical associations, medical facilities, and nonprofit groups, released a full policy action agenda intended to start a climate-minded conversation. Among the groups taking part are some of the biggest names in the medical trade, including the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The agenda, as The Associated Press notes, attempts to find a place in the middle around what the coalition calls a “health emergency.”

“The priority actions outlined below are urgent and essential steps to protect and promote health and advance the well-being of all people in the era of climate change,” the coalition says in a summary of the report. “Building healthy energy, transportation, land use, and agriculture systems now will deliver immediate and sustained health benefits to all and reduce future health risks from climate change.”

Among steps recommended are a return to the United Nations Paris climate agreement, which the Trump administration vowed to remove the U.S. from in 2017; a move away from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources; a stronger focus on supporting farms and natural lands; and an emphasis on safe and affordable drinking water.

The agenda also makes a case for equality in helping resolve the problems caused by climate change.

“Communities that have experienced systemic neglect and environmental racism have the least responsibility for climate pollution but are the most affected,” the call to action stated [PDF]. “These communities have less access to the political, economic, social, and environmental resources that enable them to cope with climate threats and face potentially unmanageable pressures as the impacts of climate change mount.”

The move comes at a time when climate issues have been a center of recent debate. Earlier this year, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) helped drive some of the most robust climate change discussion in years with the introduction of a framework called the Green New Deal, a policy package that aims to create economic growth around green initiatives. While the bill has yet to make progress in Congress, it has helped to revitalize discussion of climate change issues on the left.

And other coalitions have helped pick up the climate change baton in recent months. In May, a new group called the CEO Climate Dialogue formed with the support of the leaders of some of the world’s largest companies.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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