AMA adopts new policy declaring climate change a public health crisis

June 13, 2022 – With climate change negatively impacting the health in the US and around the globe, the American Medical Association (AMA) today adopted policy during the Annual Meeting of its House of Delegates declaring climate change a public health crisis that threatens the health and well-being of all people. Building on existing efforts to address the climate crisis, the new policy specifically mobilizes the AMA to advocate for policies that limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, reduce US 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.

As part of the new policy, the AMA will develop a strategic plan for how to enact its climate change policies, including advocacy priorities and strategies to decarbonize physician practices and the health sector with a report back to the House of Delegates at the 2023 Annual Meeting .

“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. Like the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis will disproportionately impact the health of historically marginalized communities,” said AMA Board Member Ilse R. Levin, DO, MPH “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.

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 policies adopted today 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 US 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.

About the AMA

The American Medical Association is the physicians’ powerful ally in patient care. As the only medical association that convenes 190+ state and specialty medical societies and other critical stakeholders, the AMA represents physicians with a unified voice to all key players in health care. The AMA leverages its strength by removing the obstacles that interfere with patient care, leading the charge to prevent chronic disease and confront public health crises, and, driving the future of medicine to tackle the biggest challenges in health care. For more information, visit ma-assn.org.


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