A recent survey of Canadian Medical Association (CMA) members on behalf of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Climate and Health Alliance (GCHA) showed 95% of respondents recognized the impacts of climate change.
The survey found that 9 out of 10 members surveyed are worried about climate change, and more than 75% believe climate change will have a more frequent or severe effect on the following health issues in Canada over the next decade:
- physical and mental harm from forest or bush fires, and storms and floods;
- illness due to reduced outdoor air quality;
- anxiety, depression or other mental conditions; and
- heat-related illnesses.
The results of the CMA survey coincide with the release of The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change, a report that tracks global progress on the issue.
Read the 2020 report of The Lancet Countdown
Canadian researchers, Drs. Claudel Pétrin-Desrosiers and Finola Hackett, pulled data from the report to tell the Canadian story. Their analysis – supported by the CMA – highlights the growing impact of extreme heat and air pollution on population health and provides recommendations for achieving a just and sustainable recovery from the simultaneous crisis of COVID-19.
“If we address the converging crisis of worsening climate conditions and declining health together, we can mitigate these shocks and achieve health and economic benefits instead.” – Dr. Claudel Pétrin-Desrosiers, co-author
Drs. Pétrin-Desrosiers and Hackett argue Canada must implement comprehensive plans to deliver on its commitments under the Paris Agreement.
The CMA survey found strong support for this position among members. Nearly three-quarters of respondents strongly agreed that health professionals should actively encourage Canada’s leaders (74%) and world leaders (72%) to strengthen their commitments to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius or less.
Other key findings:
- Health professionals have a responsibility to bring the health effects of climate change to the attention of policy-makers (89%) and Canadians (82%).
- Health professionals believe that climate change will harm future generations a great deal (85%).
This is the fourth consecutive year the CMA has supported the Canadian findings of The Lancet Countdown, part of the association’s ongoing commitment to highlight the links between climate change and health, and to call on governments to take action to mitigate its impacts on Canadians.
The WHO will incorporate the results of the CMA survey into a larger global study on climate change and health that compares the views of up to 20 health professional associations from countries worldwide. The CMA conducted the survey in October 2020, with more than 2,800 members taking part. The WHO’s global comparison will be published in January 2021.