Media Release: World’s public health leaders call for an end to coal

 17th February 2015
Kolkata-At the close of their international conference in Kolkata, as part of a broad “Call to Action for Public Health”, the world’s public health associations advocated “a rapid phase-out of coal” to limit further global warming and prevent illnesses and deaths associated with air pollution.
 
The Healthy Energy Initiative welcomed the Call to Action released at the World Congress on Public Health, hosted by the Indian Public Health Association and attended by more than 1,600 delegates. The Call to Action points to the “contribution of fossil fuels and coal in particular to climate change as well as to detrimental impacts on the health and wellbeing of local communities.”
 
The statement is one of the strongest yet to emerge from the global public health community on action to limit fossil fuel use, calling for a rapid phase out of coal for electricity production, divestment from fossil fuels and a transition to renewable energy as an “investment in global health and healthy communities”.
 
President of the World Federation of Public Health Associations Dr Mengistu Asnake said the emphasis on fossil fuels as drivers of climate change and risks to community health in the statement “highlights their contribution to a massive burden of illness and death worldwide.”

 “Millions of lives are at risk from climate change and the carbon intensive global economy,” Dr Asnake said, citing World Health Organization figures that seven million people die every year from air pollution, of which coal is significant contributor.

Healthy Energy Initiative global coordinator Jennifer Wang said the Call to Action would help mobilise health professionals worldwide to advocate for a clean energy transition in their countries and communities.

“We know that safer, healthier energy choices to replace coal, oil and gas are available and increasingly affordable. This Call to Action highlights the health dimension of energy choices, and signals the growing involvement of the health sector around the world in advocating for clean air and a healthy climate,” Ms Wang said.

The Call to Action also warns against nuclear power and gas as alternatives to coal and oil, emphasising the need to commit to “sustainable and renewable energy technologies and not short term and potentially dangerous methods such as nuclear fission and hydraulic fracking”.

“Cutting our fossil fuel use is one of the most substantial contributions we can make as a global community to protecting and improving public health worldwide,” Ms Wang said.

“It also offers the chance for impoverished or isolated communities to regain control of their energy sources,” Dr Asnake said.

Read here for a full copy of the Kolkata Declaration

For more information about the Healthy Energy Initiative, visit: www.healthyenergyinitiative.org/about