"Climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st century ... the impacts will be felt all around the world — and not just in some distant future but in our lifetimes and those of our children." — The Lancet, 2009
ANA 2008 House of Delegates Resolution on Global Climate Change
WHEREAS, ANA has long partnered with environmental agencies and groups such as Health Care Without Harm, Practice Greenhealth (formerly Hospitals for a Healthy Environment), US Environmental Protection Agency and the University of Maryland, and collaborated on projects such as the Luminary Project and RN no Harm; and
WHEREAS, some of ANA's constituent member associations have developed their own environmental task forces, which acknowledges ANA and the CMA's commitment to the environment and addressing environmentally related health concerns and their impact on the nursing profession; and
WHEREAS, the ANA has been a leader in the formation of public policy that affects human health and patient advocacy and has adopted a Precautionary Approach which mandates action to counteract potential threats to human health; and
WHEREAS, current scientific evidence research conducted by health institutes, environmental groups, higher education institutes and the US government clearly documents the threats posed by global climate change on a massive human and environmental scale; and
WHEREAS, "the American Nurses Association (ANA) exists to promote the health of the public and advance the nursing profession through the development and support of prevention programs" (ANA, 2001, 23). Nurses have the responsibility to be aware of broader health concerns such as environmental pollution; and
WHEREAS, the ANA and its constituent member associations have an obligation to take action to influence public policy on global climate health threats and to develop and support programs that would allow and encourage nurses to have an impact in the global health environment; therefore be it
RESOLVED, that the American Nurses Association recognizes and publicly acknowledges that the challenges we face as a result of global climate change are unprecedented in human history and it is critical that nurses speak out in a united voice and advocate for change on both individual and policy levels; and be it further
RESOLVED, that the American Nurses Association encourages constituent member associations to support local public policies that endorse sustainable energy sources and
reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and be it further
RESOLVED, that the American Nurses Association supports initiatives to decrease the contribution to global warming by the healthcare industry.
Excerpt from the AMA Resolution 430 (A-08)
RESOLVED, That our American Medical Association:
- endorse the findings of the 4th Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change;
- support research to explore the human health effects of climate change;
- support state, federal and international policy coordination to develop adaptive strategies to respond to the predicted human health effects of climate change; and
- encourage Congress and the President to adopt national and international policies to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gasses. (New HOD Policy)
Excerpt from APHA Resolution
American Public Health Association (APHA) therefore resolves the following:
- The long-term threat of global climate change to global health is extremely serious and the fourth IPCC report and other scientific literature demonstrate convincingly that anthropogenic GHG emissions are primarily responsible for this threat.
- The public health community should advocate for mitigation and avoidance of climate change, track the impacts of climate change on human health, and assist with adaptation, to the degree possible, to those health effects caused by changes in climate that can not be prevented. The public health community also should assess and communicate the potential short-term public health benefits, as well as the potential adverse public health impacts, of GHG mitigation strategies.
- US policy makers should immediately take necessary steps to reduce US emissions of GHGs, including carbon dioxide, to avert dangerous climate change. The key component of such an effort is establishing a mandatory economywide cap on emissions with successive reductions over time. Such a cap will create incentives for residential and industrial energy efficiency and increased use of alternative energy production, such as wind and solar power. It also will promote advanced technologies to reduce or capture carbon emissions from energy production; changes in transportation and land-use policy to promote conservation and reduce consumption of fossil fuels; increases in fuel economy; changes in agriculture; and extensive investment in research and development in low-carbon energy, transportation, agriculture, and manufacturing technologies. US companies also should employ technologies to reduce GHG emissions from their facilities located outside of the United States.
- Acknowledge that freedom from serious adverse effects of global climate change qualifies as a basic human right as the APHA understands that term. Individuals living in extreme poverty, in particular, must be protected from the adverse effects of changes in global climate, and the United States, as the largest global contributor of GHGs40 to the atmosphere over the past 150 years, should substantially increase funding for both traditional development projects that reduce or minimize GHG emissions and build public health capacity and infrastructure in developing countries as well as specific climate change adaptation projects.
- The United States and international public health agencies should promote strategies (e.g., family planning) to address population growth, which, if not addressed, will make GHG reductions extremely difficult.
- The public health workforce should be better educated about the impacts of global climate change, as well as mitigation and adaptation strategies. Federal, state, and local public health agencies should receive adequate resources to support education, outreach, surveillance and monitoring, needs assessment, and prevention activities related to climate change.
- The curricula for students in atmospheric chemistry, meteorology, and other earth sciences relevant to the study of climate change and its geophysical effects should include instruction on the public health consequences of climate change.
- All public health professionals and organizations should adopt practices that minimize GHG emissions related to their activities.
- There should be ongoing research, education, prevention, monitoring, and assessment pertaining to long-term, intergenerational public health issues that will likely arise from climate and ecological change, as called for in APHA Policy 9510, but that these activities should not delay immediate and aggressive activity toward stabilization and reduction of GHG emissions.