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AMA: Climate change is a public health crisis

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Climate changes are threatening the health and well-being of all people, according to the group

The American Medical Association has declared climate change a public health crisis that threatens the health and well-being of all people. The new policy mobilizes the AMA to advocate for policies that limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions aimed at carbon neutrality by 2050, and support rapid implementation and incentivization of clean energy solutions and significant investments in climate resilience through a climate justice lens.

The organization will also develop a strategic plan for enacting its climate change policies, including on how to decarbonize physician practices and the health care industry. The new policy also recognizes the health, safety, and climate risks of current methods of producing fossil fuel-derived hydrogen and the dangers of adding hydrogen to natural gas.

“The scientific evidence is clear – our patients are already facing adverse health effects associated with climate change, from heat-related injuries, vector-borne diseases and air pollution from wildfires, to worsening seasonal allergies and storm-related illness and injuries,” said AMA Board Member Ilse R. Levin, D.O., MPH, in a statement. “Like the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis will disproportionately impact the health of historically marginalized communities. Taking action now won’t reverse all of the harm done, but it will help prevent further damage to our planet and our patients’ health and well-being.”

The policy is intended to build upon AMA’s existing policy and efforts to promote environmental sustainability and efforts to halt the global climate crisis, including policy to help physicians in adopting environmentally-sustainable programs in their practices and sharing these concepts with their patients and communities. As part of AMA’s ongoing commitment to address climate change, the AMA is a member of the National Academy of Medicine Action Collaborative on Decarbonizing the U.S. Health Sector—a public-private partnership among the health sector aimed at mitigating climate change and protecting human health, well-being, and equity by addressing the sector’s environmental impact.

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