Statement on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its report “Global Warming of 1.5 degrees C,” which warned of the profound dangers to human and environmental health from the current trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions. The statement below can be attributed to Dr. Mona Sarfaty, Director of the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health, a coalition of 22 medical societies representing more than half a million doctors.

“Yesterday, the world’s leading climate scientist released a vital update to our understanding of the world’s climate change trajectory. In short: the prognosis is very bad. Citizens and government have about a decade to greatly accelerate the inevitable transition to clean energy.

As a physician, I know that climate change is already harming the health of Americans. Doctors and medical professionals see it daily in our offices, including the effects of extreme weather events like Hurricane Florence to droughts, smoke from large wildfires, spreading Lyme disease, and worsened asthma. This week’s IPCC report makes clear that these harms will get much worse for our patients if we don’t act now.

In the face of this terrible news, we see a truly extraordinary opportunity. Our patients—and all people—can have cleaner air to breathe and cleaner water to drink, and can live longer and healthier lives, if we’re willing to work together to fully embrace the clean energy revolution. By fully embracing America’s—and the world’s—transition to clean energy, and leaving most of the dirty fossil fuel resources in the ground where they belong, we can all benefit almost overnight from better air, better water, and better health. Embracing America’s clean energy destiny is also the most important action we can take to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C, thereby preventing a global public health disaster that would likely last for many generations to come.

This week’s report greatly increases the urgency of this moment. The Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health, and the more than half a million doctors we represent, are going to redouble our efforts ensure that every American, including and especially leaders in our government and businesses, understand exactly what is at stake if we fail to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C—and what is to be gained if we act now.

This is a future worth fighting for, which is precisely what doctors across America and the world are going to do.”