Advertisement

Physicians’ responsibility toward environmental degradation and climate change: A position paper of the European Federation of Internal Medicine

Published:August 31, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejim.2022.08.001

      Highlights

      • EFIM publishes a position paper about Environment Degradation and Climate Change.
      • Health industry should reduce its ecological footprint.
      • Internists should be involved in policy decisions related to climate change.
      • Internists must be active agents in advocating sustainable practices for the environment.
      • Internists should be role models in the adoption of environmentally friendly behavior.

      Abstract

      The current data on climate change and environmental degradation are dramatic. The consequences of these changes are already having a significant impact on people's health. Physicians — as advocates of the patients, but also as citizens — have an ethical obligation to be involved in efforts to stop these changes. The European Federation of Internal Medicine (EFIM) strongly encourages the Internal Medicine societies and internists across Europe to play an active role in matters related to climate change and environmental degradation. At a national level, this includes advocating the adoption of measures that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and environmental degradation and contributing to policy decisions related to these issues. At a hospital level and in clinical practice, supporting actions by the health sector to reduce its ecological footprint is vital. At the level of EFIM and its associated internal societies, promoting educational activities and developing a toolkit to prepare internists to better care for citizens who suffer from the consequences of climate change. In addition to advocating and implementing effective actions to reduce the ecological footprint of the health industry, recommending the introduction of these themes in scientific programs of Internal Medicine meetings and congresses and the pre- and postgraduate medical training. At a personal level, internists must be active agents in advocating sustainable practices for the environment, increasing the awareness of the community about the health risks of climate change and environmental degradation, and being role models in the adoption of environmentally friendly behaviour.

      Keywords

      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'

      Subscribe:

      Subscribe to European Journal of Internal Medicine
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect

      References

      1. IPCC. Masson-Delmotte, V., P. Zhai, A. Pirani, S. L. Connors, C. Péan, S. Berger, N. Caud, Y. Chen, L. Goldfarb, M. I. Gomis, M. Huang, K. Leitzell, E. Lonnoy, J. B. R. Matthews, T. K. Maycock, T. Waterfield, O. Yelekçi, R. Yu and B. Zhou (editors). Climate change 2021: the physical science basis. contribution of working group I to the sixth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA ; 2021. In Press. Available in: https://www.noaa.gov/news/2020-was-earth-s-2nd-hottest-year-just-behind-2016. Accessed December 12, 2021.

      2. United Nations Secretary-General. Secretary-General's statement on the IPCC Working Group 1 report on the physical science basis of the sixth assessment. Available in: https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/secretary-generals-statement-the-ipcc-working-group-1-report-the-physical-science-basis-of-the-sixth-assessment (10 8 2021). Accessed December 12, 2021.

      3. IPCC. H.-O. Pörtner, D.C. Roberts, M. Tignor, E.S. Poloczanska, K. Mintenbeck, A. Alegría, M. Craig, S. Langsdorf, S. Löschke, V. Möller, A. Okem, B. Rama (eds.). Climate change 2022: impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. contribution of working group II to the sixth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA; 2022. In Press. Available in: https://report.ipcc.ch/ar6wg2/pdf/IPCC_AR6_WGII_FinalDraft_FullReport.pdf. Accessed March 1, 2022.

      4. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 2022. 2021 was Earth's 6th-warmest year on record. Available in: https://www.noaa.gov/news/2021-was-worlds-6th-warmest-year-on-record. Accessed June 14, 2022.

      5. Roser M, Ortiz-Ospina E and Ritchie H 2019 - Life Expectancy 2019. Available in: https://ourworldindata.org/life-expectancy. Accessed December 14, 2021.

      6. United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2019). World population prospects 2019: highlights (ST/ESA/SER.A/423). Available in: https://population.un.org/wpp/Publications/Files/WPP2019_Highlights.pdf. Accessed December 17, 2021.

        • WWF
        Almond R E A Grooten M Petersen T Living planet report 2020 - bending the curve of biodiversity loss. WWF, Gland, Switzerland2020 (Available in:) (Accessed December 17, 2021.)
      7. WHO Air pollution and child health: prescribing clean air, Summary Geneva: World Health Organization; 2018. (WHO/CED/PHE/18.01). License: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.

      8. Global Footprint Network 2021. Available in: https://www.footprintnetwork.org/ Accessed December 17, 2021.

        • Zalasiewicz J
        • Williams M
        • Steffen W
        • Crutzen P
        “The new world of the Anthropocene” (PDF).
        Environ Sci Technol. 2010; 44 (Bibcode:2010EnST...44.2228Z, hdl:1885/36498, PMID 20184359): 2228-2231https://doi.org/10.1021/es903118j
        • Whitmee S.
        • Haines A.
        • Beyrer C.
        • Boltz F.
        • Capon A.
        • Dias B.
        • et al.
        Safeguarding human health in the Anthropocene epoch: report of The Rockefeller Foundation-Lancet Commission on planetary health [published correction appears in Lancet. 2015 Nov 14;386(10007):1944].
        Lancet. 2015; 386(100007): 1973-2028https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(15)60901-1
        • Zhao Q
        • Guo Y
        • Ye T
        • Gasparrini A
        • Tong S
        • Overcenco A
        • et al.
        Global, regional, and national burden of mortality associated with non-optimal ambient temperatures from 2000 to 2019: a three-stage modeling study.
        Lancet Planet Health. 2021; 5: e415-e425https://doi.org/10.1016/S2542-5196(21)00081-4
        • Fuller R
        • Landrigan P J
        • Balakrishnan K
        • Bathan G
        • Bose-O’Reilly S
        • Brauer M
        • et al.
        Pollution and health: a progress update.
        The Lancet. Planet Health. 2022; (S2542-5196(22)00090-0. Advance online publication.)https://doi.org/10.1016/S2542-5196(22)00090-0
        • UNEP
        Frontiers2018/2019 emerging issues of environmental concerns.
        United Nations Environment Program, Nairobi2019 (Available in:) (Accessed January 20, 2022.)
        • Rocklöv J
        • Dubrow R
        Climate change: an enduring challenge for vector-borne disease prevention and control.
        Nat Immunol. 2020; 21: 479-483https://doi.org/10.1038/s41590-020-0648-y
        • Watts N
        • Amann M
        • Arnell N
        • Ayeb-Karlsson S
        • Beagley J
        • Belesova K
        • et al.
        The 2020 report of The Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: responding to converging crises.
        Lancet. 2021; 397: 129-170https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)32290-X
        • Romanello M
        • McGushin A
        • Di Napoli C
        • Drummond P
        • Hughes N
        • Jamart L
        • et al.
        The 2021 report of the Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: code red for a healthy future.
        Lancet. 2021; 398 (Erratum in: Lancet 2021;398(10317):2148. PMID: 34687662): 1619-1662https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(21)01787-6
      9. Health care without harm 2019. Health care's climate footprint: how the health sector contributes to the global climate crisis and opportunities for action. Available in: https://noharm-global.org/sites/default/files/documents-files/5961/HealthCaresClimateFootprint_092319.pdf. Accessed June 14, 2022.

        • Peng Y
        • Wu P
        • Schartup A T
        • Zhang Y
        Plastic waste release caused by COVID-19 and its fate in the global ocean.
        Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2021; 118e2111530118https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2111530118
      10. The Royal Australasian College of Physicians 2015. Climate change and health. Available in: https://www.racp.edu.au/advocacy/policy-and-advocacy-priorities/climate-change-and-health. Accessed January 30, 2022.

      11. The Royal Society 2016. Energy, environment, and climate. Available in: https://royalsociety.org/topics-policy/energy-environment-climate/. Accessed January 30, 2022.

      12. World Medical Association 2022. WMA Climate Change. Available in: https://www.wma.net/news-post/wma-climate-change/. Accessed February 10, 2022.

        • Crowley R.A.
        Health and public policy committee of the American college of physicians. Climate change and health: a position paper of the American college of physicians.
        Ann Intern Med. 2016 May 3; 164 (Epub 2016 Apr 19. PMID: 27089232): 608-610https://doi.org/10.7326/M15-2766
      13. National Health Service 2020. Delivering a “Net Zero” national health service. Available in: https://www.england.nhs.uk/greenernhs/wp-content/uploads/sites/51/2020/10/delivering-a-net-zero-national-health-service.pdf. Accessed June 20, 2022.

      14. Campos L. Climate change, health, and our responsibility: SPMI Recommendations. Med Interna (Bucur) 2017;24(2):83­4.

        • Atwoli L
        • Baqui A
        • Benfield T
        • Bosurgi R
        • Godlee F
        • Hancocks S
        • et al.
        Call for emergency action to limit global temperature increases, restore biodiversity, and protect health.
        N Engl J Med. 2021; 385: 1134-1137https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMe2113200