March 28, 2014

Divestment, Just What the Doctor Ordered

British Medical Journal Endorses Fossil Fuel Divestment — Challenges Medical Professionals to Divest their Institutions

CONTACT: Melanie Mattauch, European Communications Coordinator, [email protected], +49151 5812 0184

London, UK — Fossil fuel divestment advocates are celebrating the release of an editorial by the British Medical Journal endorsing fossil fuel divestment as the number one way for medical professionals to help address the climate crisis.

The authors of the March 26 editorial lay out the devastating impacts that climate change will have on public health and write, “Those who profess to care for the health of people perhaps have the greatest responsibility to act.” They continue:

“So what can health professionals do? Firstly, we should push our own organisations (universities, hospitals, primary care providers, medical societies, drug and device companies) to divest from fossil fuel industries completely and as quickly as possible, reinvest in renewable energy sources, and move to “renewable” energy suppliers.”

The co-authors of the editorial are David McCoy, senior clinical lecturer at Queen Mary University, Hugh Montgomery, director of the UCL Institute of Human Health and Performance,  Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, president of the British Medical Association, and Fiona Godlee, editor in chief of the British Medical Journal.

“It was a turning point when physicians spoke out against investments in the tobacco industry,” said Tim Ratcliffe, European Divestment Coordinator for said. “The fact that doctors are now calling for fossil fuel divestment should serve as a wake-up call to investors to pull their money out of high-carbon assets.”

David McCoy, one of the co-authors of the editorial, is chairperson of Medact, a London-based health charity that aims to enable health professionals to act on the social, political, ecological and economic determinants of health and health inequality. Medact is about to kick off a campaign alongside Healthy Planet persuading major health institutions in the UK to divest from fossil fuels.

In a recent op-ed for the Harvard Crimson, pre-med student Riley J. Brian ‘15 wrote, “The implications of climate change present a major threat to public health—likely the greatest that we will face in our lifetimes….I would rather take an organic chemistry exam every single day for the next 10 years than have to tell my children that Harvard—the university that I attended and love—sponsored the fossil fuel industry with its endowment and was thus complicit in the destruction of our world and its people.” is looking forward to working with doctors, medical students, and other health professionals to continue to advocate that public institutions, including health organizations, divest from the fossil fuel industry.