Urgent help needed for world's fossil fuel addiction

Global health associations and scientists demand an end to fossil fuels in a campaign also backed by the Dalai Lama, Nobel laureates and the Vatican.

World Health Organization director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus calls the modern addiction to fossil fuels "an act of self-sabotage”.
World Health Organization director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus calls the modern addiction to fossil fuels "an act of self-sabotage”. Photo Credit: GettyImages/NirutiStock

Hundreds of health associations around the world have demanded an end to fossil fuels.

The World Health Organization, the International Paediatric Association, the World Medical Association, and the World Federation of Public Health Associations are amongst almost 200 signatories of a letter calling on governments to create a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty.

“The modern addiction to fossil fuels is not just an act of environmental vandalism. From the health perspective, it is an act of self-sabotage”, said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization.

Comparable to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the proposed Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty would be an evidence-based international agreement to control a category of substances well-known to be harmful to human health: coal, oil and gas.

The modern addiction to fossil fuels is not just an act of environmental vandalism. From the health perspective, it is an act of self-sabotage.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general, World Health Organization

More than 1,000 health professionals and 3,000 scientists have backed the campaign, which has been endorsed by the Dalai Lama, a hundred 100 Nobel laureates, and the Vatican.

The letter was initiated by the Global Climate and Health Alliance, and Physicians for Social Responsibility with the support of the World Health Organization, the WHO-Civil Society Working Group on Climate and Health and Health Care Without Harm.

“We know that emissions have to be slashed to limit warming to safe levels, we know fossil fuels are the greatest driver of emissions, and we know that phasing out fossil fuels is the only way to reap many of the health co-benefits of climate mitigation – so why then are governments permitting new drilling, new mining and new pipelines?”, said Liz Hanna, chair for environmental health at the World Federation of Public Health Associations.

“The science on this is clear: new fossil fuel development is completely incompatible with a healthy climate and a healthy future”.



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