Health Care Without Harm congratulates the American Medical Association (AMA) on their recent commitment to divest their financial holdings from toxic fossil fuels.
AMA’s House of Delegates’ adoption of a resolution “to end all financial investments or relationships (divestment) with companies that generate the majority of their income from the exploration for, production of, transportation of, or sale of fossil fuels” is a critical step toward ensuring health care providers first do no harm.
“It is meaningful that the American Medical Association...is saying to the dirty fuels industry now just what it said to tobacco a generation ago: You are killing our patients and we will not allow it anymore,” noted Todd Sack, MD, co-author of the divestment resolution.
From extraction to combustion, fossil fuels pose a direct threat to the health of our communities. The air pollution from fossil fuels alone causes 200,000 premature deaths each year in the United States, and the closing of coal-fired power plants has been shown to generate immediate health improvements. Carbon pollution from fossil fuels is also the leading cause of climate change, contributing to more intense and more frequent storms, growing vector-borne diseases and heat-related illnesses, as well as increased food and water scarcity. Health professionals have a moral obligation not to benefit financially from an industry that endangers human health.
By choosing not to invest in companies that profit from pollution, members of the American Medical Association are fulfilling their responsibility to protect the health of their patients and communities.
AMA’s decision to divest also sends a strong message to all health professionals and medical societies that, just as the health sector divested from tobacco as a matter of professional ethics, the time has come to end all investments in harmful fossil fuels.
Peter Orris, MD, Health Care Without Harm senior advisor, stated, “With the AMA joining the British Medical Association, Canadian Medical Association, and the World Medical Association in this action, we can now securely bring this unified message to health organizations, policymakers, and civic society in general throughout the world.”
Letter to the editor template for health professionals on AMA divestment
This template was created by Health Care Without Harm for health professionals to submit to their local newspaper’s Letters to the Editor section. You are encouraged to edit the text below to make it more relevant to readers in your community.
As a [physician or nurse], I was pleased to hear the news that the American Medical Association has chosen to divest from toxic fossil fuels. In doing so, the AMA is part of a growing movement that already includes the World Medical Association, British Medical Association, and Canadian Medical Association, all of which have divested their assets from fossil fuel companies. In the 1990s, leading health organizations divested their tobacco holdings to bring attention to the harm caused by smoking. Now, such organizations are committing to divest from an another industry that profits by making us sick.
From extraction to combustion, fossil fuels pose a direct threat to the health of our communities. Air pollution from fossil fuels alone causes 200,000 premature deaths each year, but the closing of coal-fired power plants has been shown to generate immediate health improvements. Carbon pollution from fossil fuels is also the leading cause of climate change, which contributes to increased insect-borne and heat-related illnesses; food and water scarcity; and injuries, deaths and mental health impacts from extreme weather events. As health care providers, we have a moral obligation not to support an industry that causes so much harm.
It is time for all health organizations to honor our responsibility to our healing mission by divesting from fossil fuels. Our policymakers must also follow the advice of medical experts and make the decision to invest in clean energy for our health and for the health of our children and future generations.
[your name and professional title]
Tips for getting published and making an impact:
- Be sure to read carefully the requirements for your local newspaper’s letter-to-the-editor submissions and follow the instructions, including word count limits.
- Instead of the general health effects of pollution and climate change, edit this template to include the specific impacts you see in your daily practice as a health professional in your region.
- Rather than closing with a general call to action, edit this template to include a specific recommendation. For example, name local policymakers or proposed city or state policies to increase renewable energy.