Call to Action on Climate Change and Health

25 Health Organizations Call for Action

In December 2019, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE), sent an updated version of the Call to Action on Climate Change and Health to Canada’s new Ministers of Health and Environment and Climate Change.

The original Call to Action was prepared by CAPE in collaboration with the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA), and the Urban Public Health Network (UPHN), a network of Medical Officers of Health who are responsible for public health in Canada’s large urban centres. It was released on Parliament Hill and delivered to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the leader of the Green Party and the Environment Critic for the NDP by representatives of the four health organizations in February 2019.

The Call to Action, which was updated slightly in December 2019 to reflect the fact that the federal election was behind us, includes logos from 25 Canadian health organizations representing more than 300,000 health professionals. The endorsing organizations include the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Canadian College of Family Physicians (CCFP), the Canadian Peadiatric Society, the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU), and the Lung Association of Canada.

Global Warming is Harming Canadians

CAPE and the other 24 health organizations want our new Federal Ministers to understand that climate change is already harming the mental and physical health of Canadians with air pollution, emergency evacuations, power shortages, food insecurity, insect-borne diseases and floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires and heatwaves.

2 Degrees of Warming Catastrophic for Global Health

We also want our leaders to recognize that, on a global scale, climate change is already having a devastating impact on human health, The World Health Organization estimates that heat waves, insect-borne diseases, malnutrition, and infectious diseases alone will claim 250,000 lives per year by 2030.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has concluded that the impacts on human health will be catastrophic if we do not get climate emissions under control. It estimates that hundreds of millions of people will be forced into poverty by 2050 if we allow global warming to reach 2 degees C.

Climate Solutions Produce Significant Health Benefits for Canadians

The burning of fossil fuels is responsible for 7,100 early deaths each year in Canada.  By reducing our use of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, gasoline, diesel and natural gas, we can save lives, reduce chronic diseases, and cut healthcare costs, while fighting climate change.

Chronic diseases cost about $200 billion per year in treatment and lost-time in Canada. By investing in public transit, cycling and walking, which increase physical activity, we can save lives, reduce chronic diseases and healthcare costs, while fighting climate change.

We Need to Act Fast

In 2015, Canada pledged to keep global warming well below 2oC by signing the Paris Agreement. To date, we have fallen far short of the emission reductions needed.  In 2020, our emissions are projected to be 111 MT greater than Canada’s 2020 target of 620 MT.  To limit global warming to 1.5oC, we must cut global emissions by 45% by 2030. Canada must do it’s fair share.

Prepared by Kim Perrotta MHSc January 19, 2020