The British Medical Association (BMA) has become the first body of its kind to divest from the fossil fuel firms responsible for worsening climate change – on the grounds that they pose great risks to human health.
A divestment motion was passed at the BMA’s annual meeting, with doctors agreeing to ditch the organisation’s investments in oil, gas and coal and move their money towards the clean energy sector.
The BMA agreed that climate change is “the greatest threat to human health of the 21st century”, and that therefore divestment was a crucial step. It added that fossil fuels were considered as bad as tobacco in this respect.
Among its other reasons, the BMA said that human health would benefit by a low-carbon economy, in terms of cleaner air and active transport.
The association also mentioned the financial risk of stranded assets and noted that fossil-free portfolios often outperformed those including fossil fuels firms.
The move represents a success for heath charities Medact, the Climate and Health Council and Healthy Planet UK, which had campaigned for the BMA to divest.
Hugh Montgomery, professor of Intensive Care Medicine at University College London and executive board member of the Climate and Health Council, said, “Doctors have long recognised that it is wrong to treat smoking-related diseases whilst investing in the tobacco industry.
“This vote makes a similar statement in relation to fossil fuel investments and the immediate and grave threats to human health posed by climate change. It is to be hoped that all organisations and individuals will follow their lead, and will similarly act with principle.”
In April, Dr Fiona Godlee, editor-in-chief of the British Medical Journal (BMJ), and Dr Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, president of the British Medical Association said that health professionals should divest from fossil fuels companies as quickly as possible, because holding shares in such firms was incompatible with protecting human health.
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