Tackling climate change - our action plan

As we advocate for children and young people's health and wellbeing, we have a responsibility to address the impact of climate change, which is described by the World Health Organisation as the "defining health challenge of our time". This action plan, published in January 2022, outlines our specific activities over the next three years in five workstreams. We'll report back each year on our progress.

You can download a copy of this report at the bottom of this page

Context

Climate change has known impacts on the social and environmental determinants of health – affecting clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter. Children are among the most vulnerable to these resulting health risks, and will be exposed to the health consequences for longer. Globally, climate change is expected to cause about 250,000 additional deaths per year between 2030 and 2050. This is likely to have a significant impact on the health sector.

As part of our role in advocating for children and young people and promoting their health and wellbeing, we have a responsibility to engage in activities to address climate change. We recognise the importance of using our collective voice as a College to support and encourage Government to take action. In addition, we recognise the need to investigate the impact of our own institution.

We hope you’ll see from this report that our College-wide commitment to tackling climate change is genuine and underpinned by action. It started with a member-led motion to the Annual General Meeting in May 2020; then in October 2020, we joined others in declaring a climate emergency. We have since started our three-year Climate Change programme, an identified priority in our 2021-24 strategy, with dedicated resources in place and involvement from 80 of our members.

Our overall ambitions

We have identified six ambitions to guide our climate change work: 

  1. Advocacy: To effectively use our collective voice and expertise as paediatricians to influence the national and international climate change agenda, focusing in particular on the health impacts faced by children and young people now and in the future
  2. Research: To advance research on the effects of climate change on child health inequalities and on the impacts of the climate crisis on young people’s physical and mental health
  3. Our College: To reduce the carbon footprint associated with the College and develop an ambitious College plan for sustainability
  4. Supporting members: To support members to advocate for improved sustainability in their clinical work and workplaces, supporting the health services across the four nations in their net zero ambitions
  5. Education: To develop and promote training for our members on key aspects of sustainable healthcare and the climate crisis, including communication about this topic with patients and families
  6. Supporting children and young people: To advance and support the narrative that the climate crisis is a child rights crisis, and promote children and young people’s own advocacy on the climate crisis

Our action plan

In this action plan report you'll find a collated list of all planned activity across our five climate change workstreams. This list is intended to provide a single point of reference for all work relating to climate change that the College will seek to achieve over the next year. We will provide an annual update to share our progress and refresh our actions to indicate what we will focus on for Year 2 and Year 3 of the programme.

We are really grateful to the members of our five workstreams for bringing their energy, enthusiasm and ideas into this work. This is just the beginning of our journey, and we look forward to coming back to you next year to let you know how we are getting on.