HONOLULU – As climate change continues to negatively impact the physical and mental health of people in the U.S. and around the world, the American Medical Association (AMA) today adopted policy during the Interim Meeting of its House of Delegates strengthening its efforts to address the climate crisis. Specifically, the new policy calls on the health sector to lead by example in committing to carbon neutrality by 2050.
The policy was informed by a report of the AMA’s Council on Science and Public Health, which noted that the U.S. health care sector is responsible for an estimated 8.5 percent of national carbon emissions and 25 percent of global health sector emissions—the highest proportion attributable to any individual country’s health sector. The policy adopted today also calls on the AMA to advocate for policies that reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions aimed at a 50 percent reduction in emissions by 2030, adding to policy, which previously called for carbon neutrality by 2050.
“Scientific evidence continues to show the significant public health threat that climate change represents. Physicians are already seeing firsthand the adverse impact of climate change on the health of their patients. We recognize that Indigenous peoples, minoritized and marginalized populations, children, pregnant people, the elderly, rural communities, and those who have been economically marginalized will suffer disproportionate harms from climate change,” said AMA Trustee Drayton Charles Harvey. “This is an existential threat. We must continue to do everything we can to combat the climate crisis and act now to prevent catastrophic levels of global warming. Physicians pledge to do no harm, and now it is time for the health sector to do the same by joining forces to commit to decarbonization and public health.”
The policies adopted today build upon AMA’s existing policy and efforts to halt the global climate crisis. Most recently, in June, the AMA declared climate change a public health crisis and directed the AMA to 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. The AMA will present a report outlining this strategy to the House of Delegates at the 2023 Annual Meeting.
Additionally, 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 U.S. 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.
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About the American Medical Association
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.