College position statement on climate crisis

Ahead of COP26 the College is calling on world leaders for action to limit the impact of climate change on child health and to acknowledge that the climate crisis is a child rights crisis.

Released in the lead up to COP26, the College’s new position statement calls on global leaders and their representatives to make children and young people’s health central to all climate change policy decisions.  

The statement further calls for the delivery of a rapid and just transition away from fossil fuels to protect children and young people from air pollution and for investment in climate-resilient, low carbon and sustainable healthcare and education systems. 

Dr Camilla Kingdon, President of RCPCH, said:

The climate crisis is a child rights crisis. COP26 is an opportunity to assess, reaffirm and strengthen existing climate change commitments made by international leaders. 

A recent UNICEF report shows that the impacts of the climate crisis place approximately one billion children around the world at risk. More action is needed to make the planet a safer place for all children and this starts with making child health a central theme of all climate change policy decisions.

The statement comes almost exactly a year after the College joined many other organisations in declaring a climate emergency in October 2020. Climate change has been identified as a priority in the new College strategy for 2021-24, and efforts are underway to establish a comprehensive programme of work, driven by College members and led by a dedicated Climate Change Working Group (CCWG).  

Dr Bernadette O’Hare, International Chair of the CCWG, said:

The CCWG is committed to using the collective voice and expertise of paediatricians to help focus the climate change agenda on the physical and mental health impacts faced by children and young people, in the UK and globally. 

We hope to amplify the voices of young people in their concerns about climate change and to also provide information and resources for paediatricians on how their own voices and actions can help reduce the impact of the climate crisis on children and young people’s health.

On 26 November, the College will be hosting an online event focusing on this vital area of work. An exciting programme of speakers and sessions is being developed and we hope you can join us virtually to be informed and inspired.