Washington (June 1, 2017)–The United States withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement will greatly undermine the global effort to prevent and mitigate the devastating impact of climate change on human health, said the American College of Physicians (ACP) today. President Trump announced this afternoon that the U.S. will withdraw from the multi-national 2015 agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
"Climate change needs to be aggressively addressed on a global level, and the Paris accord is central to this effort," said Jack Ende, MD, MACP, ACP President. "Through the Paris agreement, the U.S.–the world's second largest carbon emitter–joined with all but two countries to commit to policies to prevent and mitigate the impact of global warming on human health. Without U.S. leadership, achieving the voluntary targets agreed to by the 195 countries that signed the accord will be far more difficult. Today's decision therefore greatly increases the chances that the global effort to reduce carbon emissions will be insufficient to avert catastrophic consequences for human health."
In a 2016 paper, Climate Change and Health, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, ACP outlined the negative consequences that climate change will have on public and individual health. The paper cited higher rates of respiratory and heat-related illnesses, increased prevalence of diseases passed by insects, water-borne diseases, food and water insecurity and malnutrition, and behavioral health problems as potential health effects of climate change. The elderly, the sick, and the poor are especially vulnerable.
"Climate change is real, is largely the result of human activity, and is already affecting our health. ACP is very concerned about the harmful health effects that climate change is having on our patients," continued Dr. Ende. "Instead of withdrawing from commitments it made through the Paris agreement and rolling back regulations to reduce carbon emissions, the U.S. should be taking even more aggressive action now to protect the health of our community's most vulnerable members–including our children, our seniors, people with chronic illnesses, and the poor–because our climate is already changing and people are already being harmed. We call on President Trump to reconsider his decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement, and for Congress, state and local governments, U.S. companies, physicians, hospitals, and others to do everything in their power to ensure that this country meets its obligations."
About the American College of Physicians
The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization in the United States with members in more than 145 countries worldwide. ACP membership includes 148,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness.