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Canadian Medical Association Votes For Divestment and Reinvestment

Courtney speaking to divestment at CMA GC

The Canadian Medical Association today voted to divest the organization’s investments in companies that produce or market fossil fuels as a primary business. Dr. Courtney Howard (above), of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, brought forth the motion at the association’s annual conference.

In our recent Tracking the Energy Revolution — Global report we flagged the trend of the divestment movement  gaining new allies as one of the 10 most significant trends defining and driving the global shift to clean and renewable energy. We also dedicated one of our Clean Energy Quarterly  webinars to the subject late last year.

The association also passed motions recommending a new fund so Canada’s doctors can move their investments away from fossil fuel companies, exploring investments in renewable energy, and promoting the positive health impacts of pricing carbon emissions.

The Canadian Medical Association is a national, voluntary association representing the interests of more than 80,000 of the nation’s physicians.

Here’s a tweet on today’s vote and the media release below. (Dr. Howard photo: Hannah Shoichet.)

 

August 26, 2015

For immediate release

Canada’s doctors take bold step in supporting renewables and recognizing the health impacts of fossil fuels

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) took a big step towards our reduced dependence on fossil fuels at this summer’s annual meeting, deciding to divest its invested reserves from fossil fuel companies. Recognizing the health impacts of fossil fuel burning in causing climate change and creating air pollution, the CMA voted to move its reserves of investments out of energy companies whose primary business is based on fossil fuels.

The motion was brought by Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) board member, Dr. Courtney Howard. “As a Northern doctor, working for action on climate-health is one of the most important things I can do for my patients,” said Dr. Howard, also Northwest Territories representative to the Canadian Medical Association General Council meetings. “We are seeing respiratory effects from forest fire smoke, decreased stability of ice roads and changes in the availability of traditional foodstuffs. There is great stress associated with such rapid changes in the landscape. I am so happy that Canada’s doctors have taken such clear steps to demonstrate to Canadians that climate change is a health issue that requires urgent action.”

“We are seeing respiratory effects from forest fire smoke, decreased stability of ice roads and changes in the availability of traditional foodstuffs. There is great stress associated with such rapid changes in the landscape. I am so happy that Canada’s doctors have taken such clear steps to demonstrate to Canadians that climate change is a health issue that requires urgent action.”

The Medical journal, The Lancet, has called climate change “the biggest global health threat of the 21st century,.” The World Health Organization has estimated that by 2030, the direct health costs of climate change could be between US$ 2 billion and US$ 4 billion a year. We must leave between 2/3 and 80% of fossil fuel reserves in the ground to stay within the international target of limiting worldwide surface temperature warming to 2 degC.

“The British Medical Association led the way, ending all its investments in fossil fuels,” said Dr Kapil Khatter, Past President of CAPE and General Council delegate. “It is great to see the Canadian Medical Association joining other progressive medical organizations.”

The CMA also passed motions recommending a new fund so Canada’s doctors can move their investments away from fossil fuel companies, and to explore investments in renewable energy and to promoting the positive health impacts of pricing carbon emissions.

Next year’s Canadian Medical Association meetings will include a focus on the health effects of climate change.