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Doctors and nurses should tell patients about the need to act to fight climate change

Doctors and nurses should use their ‘trusted’ positions to urge patients to fight climate change, researchers say

  • The experts called for medics to use their ‘trusted’ positions to change attitudes
  • It comes ahead of the UK hosting the Glasgow climate summer in November
  • More than a quarter of Britons are worried about climate change, polls suggest

Doctors and nurses should tell their patients to fight climate change, experts have said.

Writing in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, they said medics should wield their ‘trusted’ positions in society to get people to take care of the planet.

Academics wrote that health professionals could be ‘effective messengers’ and help encourage more people to fight climate change.

The recommendation, by three Australian scientists, comes ahead of the UK hosting the crunch UN Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow in November.

The conference, which will be attended by the Queen, Greta Thunberg and an array of world leaders, will urge countries to do more to limit greenhouse gas emissions. 

Boris Johnson has already put in place plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by the end of this decade, in an effort to reach ‘net-zero’ by 2050. 

Other plans to fight climate change include banning the installation of gas boilers from 2025, and commitments to increase offshore wind plants.

It comes after a ‘doomsday’ UN report published last month, dubbed ‘code red for humanity’, warned the planet was likely to warm by 1.5C by 2040, a decade earlier than forecasted. 

Writing in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Healthy, they said medics should weild their ‘trusted’ positions in society to get people to take care of the planet (stock)

The researchers behind the new recommendation, from the University of New South Wales, wrote in their paper: ‘Research shows the more likely you are to agree climate change is impacting us now and see the links between extreme weather events today and climate change, the more concerned you are about climate change and the more open you are to advocacy and action on the issue. 

‘As trusted messengers, medical and health professionals can be effective communicators to those who are concerned about climate but may not yet see it as an urgent priority for governments.’

They pointed to papers suggesting that while people had become more concerned about Covid, worries over climate change had not diminished.

Paper co-author Dr Lai Heng Foong said: ‘As recent bushfires, heatwaves, and extreme weather events in Australia and internationally have highlighted, the immediate threats to the health of communities and healthcare systems are immense.

‘The situation is increasingly urgent. We need to act now, before tipping points are reached and the way we live our lives will be irreversibly changed. 

‘We also need to ensure that the legacy we leave behind for our children is one where they can thrive.’ 

It comes after the Prime Minister yesterday lashed out at the world’s leading economic nations as he accused them of doing ‘nowhere near enough’ to tackle climate change.

Mr Johnson said he was ‘increasingly frustrated’ at the ‘vast’ gap between promises and action.

Addressing a roundtable at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, he said ‘too many major economies… are lagging too far behind’ when it comes to reducing harmful emissions. 


A target set by the government in June 2019 will require the UK to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. 

Former Prime Minister Theresa May had announced the target, saying the plans were ambitious but crucial for protecting the planet for future generations.

The move will require huge changes such as more renewable electricity generation, phasing out new petrol and diesel cars by at least 2035 and a 20 per cent cut in beef and lamb consumption. 

‘The UK kick-started the Industrial Revolution, which was responsible for economic growth across the globe but also for increasing emissions,’ said said Energy and Clean Growth Minister Chris Skidmore at the time.

‘We’re leading the world yet again in becoming the first major economy to pass new laws to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050 while remaining committed to growing the economy – putting clean growth at the heart of our modern Industrial Strategy.’    

Net zero means any emissions would be balanced by schemes to offset an equivalent amount of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, such as planting trees or using technology like carbon capture and storage.

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