Health Care Without Harm today applauded the unanimous decision by delegates gathered in Moscow this past week at the World Medical Association's (WMA) Annual General Assembly to call on its more than 100 constituent member associations to consider divestment from fossil fuels.
The call is a response to the recognized health impacts of fossil fuel energy generation. It follows decisions by the British and Canadian Medical Associations to direct their financial teams to divest from fossil fuels.
"Just as health professionals helped lead the fight against smoking by divesting from tobacco companies, the WMA is asking national medical associations around the world to consider that coal and other fossil fuels may be the new tobacco," said Josh Karliner, International Coordinator for Health Care Without Harm. "The WMA's call is an important step forward to protect public health from local air pollution and global climate change, both of which are caused by fossil fuel combustion."
Dr. Peter Orris, a Professor at the University of Illinois, an Associate member of WMA and the author of its resolution on divestment noted that "while this measure is still under consideration by the WMA’s membership, sending it for discussion by national medical associations recognizes the importance of the issue, and the need for a preventative approach to one of the greatest health threats of our time."
Based on member response, the WMA will complete consideration of its divestment Call at its next General Assembly in 2016.
At the same time, Health Care Without Harm continues to work with international and national health professional groups like WMA, along with hospitals, health systems and health organizations to promote not only divestment, but also investment strategies and public policies that foster a transition from fossil fuels toward clean, healthy renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.