The CSP's governing council has declared a climate and natural emergency as part of a new policy statement. The statement recognises the negative health impacts of global warming, pollution and the loss of nature.
This is the first time the CSP has adopted a comprehensive stance on the environment.
Commenting, Council chair Alex Mackenzie said, “We can’t ignore the serious health impacts of environmental degradation nor the impact of healthcare on the environment. Air pollution has a serious impact on people with respiratory illnesses. Loss of open space limits access to free physical activity. Climate change is a threat we can’t ignore.”
Five per cent of carbon emissions are related to health services. The NHS is striving to become carbon neutral through Greener NHS programme in England and initiatives in other UK countries. The CSP is involved in the Greener AHP programme.
Many of the actions needed to reduce the environmental impact of healthcare reinforce action to improve accessibility of physiotherapy. Moving care into the community closer to patients, remote consultations where appropriate and promoting walking and cycling can all help.
The CSP Council also decided to include reducing the CSP’s operational impact on the environment and action to support sustainable physiotherapy as work streams in the next CSP corporate strategy.
The full text of the CSP policy statement is as follows:
CSP Declaration on Sustainability
- The CSP recognises climate change is a health issue and that we face climate and nature emergencies. Our members and their patients are directly affected by the state of the environment and nature.
- We support initiatives to address the impact of healthcare on the environment and nature. Healthcare itself involves significant use of energy, land and scare materials. To achieve the targets needed to address climate change health services must take urgent action to achieve net carbon neutrality. We will focus our work on sustainability in this area. We believe that there is synergy between improving the sustainability of healthcare and improving patient care.
- We need action on pollution, nature loss and biodiversity to improve and protect population health. A diverse and accessible natural world is essential for pharmacology, physical activity, mental health and respiratory health. We therefore need to conserve our natural environment as both part of addressing climate change and to ensure the health benefits of access to nature are maintained. We therefore oppose the loss of forests, wetlands, urban open spaces and biodiversity.
- We believe that climate justice cannot be separated from social justice and equality. It is the most marginalised communities who suffer most from climate change, pollution, and loss of nature.
- We recognise how we operate as an organisation can have a negative impact on the environment. We will seek more sustainable ways to operate.
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