Canadian Medical Association

The health impacts of climate change are rapidly intensifying all over the world, warns the latest Lancet Countdown on climate change and health.

Fossil fuel-related air pollution is implicated in one in five global deaths. Habitat loss is threatening biodiversity and putting humans in closer contact with wildlife and livestock, contributing to the spread of vector-born diseases and increasing the risk of future pandemics.

Even under the lowest-emission scenario modeled by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global heating due to climate change is expected to accelerate until at least 2050.

“This year’s report highlights how a holistic and health-centered approach to compounding crises — from climate shocks to the COVID-19 pandemic — can lead to a thriving future.” — Dr. Alika Lafontaine, CMA president

Read the 2022 report of The Lancet Countdown

The CMA partnered with The Lancet to produce a report with targeted recommendations to address the implications of climate change on human health in Canada. It focuses on:

  • Transforming health systems to minimize their climate impacts and adapt to the risk of extreme weather events
  • Partnering with Indigenous Peoples to advance health equity and honour Indigenous approaches to advance environmental justice
  • Communicating evidence-based solutions to adapt and mitigate in ways that improve health

Read more about the recommendations for Canada

This builds on the CMA’s ongoing advocacy for an environmentally sustainable health system in Canada.

Health care systems play a vital role in responding to climate change and creating a healthier planet. In Canada, health care is responsible for an estimated 4.6% of total greenhouse gas emissions — amounting to the second-highest per-capita GHG emissions from health care worldwide.

A newly released CMA policy on environmentally sustainable health systems highlights actions governments, health administrators and health practitioners can take — such as reducing waste, building sustainable health infrastructure and preparing for climate emergencies — to move towards achieving a climate-resilient, net zero carbon emissions health system in Canada.

Read the CMA’s policy on environmentally sustainable health systems

The CMA also participated as a stakeholder in Canada’s first national adaptation strategy, set for release later this fall, and continues to call on federal, provincial and territorial governments to prepare for and mitigate the impacts of climate change on Canadians.

Read the CMA’s submission to Canada’s first national adaptation strategy

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