More than 200 health journals around the world publish an editorial calling on leaders to take urgent action on climate change and protect health.
The British Medical Journal said it was the first time that so many publications had come together to make the same statement, reflecting the gravity of the situation.
The editorial, which comes ahead of the UN General Assembly and the Cop26 Climate Summit in Glasgow in November, states: “Ahead of these crucial meetings, we – the editors of health journals around the world – call for urgent action to keep the increase in average global temperature below 1.5 ° C, to stop the destruction of nature and to protect health.
“Health is already being damaged by the increase in global temperature and the destruction of the natural world, a situation that healthcare professionals have been calling attention to for decades.
“The science is unequivocal; a global increase of 1.5 ° C above the pre-industrial average and continued loss of biodiversity risk catastrophic health damage that will be impossible to reverse.
“Despite the world’s necessary concern for Covid-19, we cannot wait for the pandemic to pass to reduce emissions quickly.
“Reflecting the gravity of the moment, this editorial appears in health journals around the world.
“We are united in recognizing that only fundamental and equitable changes in societies will reverse our current trajectory. “
He adds: “The greatest threat to global public health is the continued failure of world leaders to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5 ° C and restore nature.
“Urgent societal changes must be made that will lead to a fairer and healthier world.
“We, as editors of health journals, call on governments and other leaders to act, marking 2021 as the year the world finally changes course.”
BMJ Editor-in-Chief Dr Fiona Godlee and one of the editorial’s co-authors said: “Healthcare professionals have been on the front lines of the Covid-19 crisis and they are united in warn that going over 1.5C and allowing continued destruction of nature will lead to the next, much deadlier crisis.
“The richer countries need to act faster and do more to support countries that are already suffering from higher temperatures. 2021 must be the year the world changes course – our health depends on it. “
The editorial will appear in the BMJ, the Lancet, the New England Journal of Medicine, the East African Medical Journal, the Chinese Science Bulletin, the National Medical Journal of India, the Medical Journal of Australia and 50 specialist journals of the BMJ, including BMJ Global. Health and Thorax.