Fossil fuels threaten health and life: Experts call for massive acceleration of the energy transition

 
11/03/2022 - The consequences of climate change are one of the greatest health risks of our time. This was stated by the Federal Minister of Health and the President of the German Medical Association together with PIK Director Johan Rockström and the organisation German Climate Change and Health Alliance (KLUG), that had invited to the Federal Press Conference. Together they advocate accelerating the energy transition in Germany and minimising greenhouse gas emissions. The background to this is a recently published report by the leading medical journal The Lancet, which highlights dependence on fossil fuels as a threat to health and life. The experts highlighted the fundamental importance of the report for Germany and what has to follow from it politically and in the German healthcare sector.
Fossil fuels threaten health and life: Experts call for massive acceleration of the energy transition
From left to right: PIK Director Johan Rockström, Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach, Chair of KLUG Martin Herrmann, President of the German Medical Association Klaus Reinhardt. Photo: PIK

Our health is at the mercy of fossil fuels - that is the main message of this year's Lancet Countdown report, which presents the work of 99 experts from 51 institutions, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The report shows that governments and corporations continue to pursue policies that increasingly threaten the health and survival of people today and future generations. That is why the rapid implementation of the energy transition is the greatest health project of our time.

The Federal Minister of Health and the leaders of the German Climate Change and Health Alliance (KLUG), the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the German Medical Association pointed out the fundamental importance of the report for Germany and what must follow from it politically and in the German health sector at the Federal Press Conference. 

Prof. Dr Karl Lauterbach, Federal Minister of Health: "Climate change is not an abstract problem. It has long begun and affects us all. The health consequences of climate change are dramatically underestimated. That is why the German government has made the importance of health policy for climate change a topic during its G7 presidency. The health system itself is part of the problem, but also part of the solution. Patients should be made aware of the consequences of climate change for their health at every contact. Doctors can be important role models."

Dr Martin Herrmann, Chair of the Board of the German Climate Change and Health Alliance (KLUG): "The data from the Lancet Countdown report clearly shows that the health impacts of climate change not only cause massive suffering, but also cost a lot of money. Threats such as food insecurity, energy poverty and heat-related diseases are on the rise. We need to accelerate the phase-out of fossil fuels to curb global warming and ensure a liveable and healthy future."

Dr Klaus Reinhardt, President of the German Medical Association: "In view of the dynamic development of global warming, we must speed up our efforts to achieve climate neutrality. This explicitly also applies to the climate-friendly expansion and conversion of health care facilities. At the same time, the health sector itself must be better prepared for the consequences of climate change. This requires the provision of specific resources for all care areas."

Prof. Dr. Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research: "To protect our families and ourselves, we must rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change can be deadly. From heat waves that cause health problems in countries like Germany, for example, among the elderly, to risks of crop failure that can lead to malnutrition among the poor in Asian or African countries, to some infectious diseases - the impacts of global warming are enormous. We need the energy transition, for healthy people on a healthy planet."

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