The British Medical Association (BMA), the trade union and professional association of British doctors, has decided to end its investment in fossil fuels. One of the reasons stated was the irony of medical organizations investing in the fossil fuel industry which damages public health, and the medical industry’s purpose is to improve it.
According to BusinessGreen, “Doctors have long recognised that it is wrong to treat smoking-related diseases whilst investing in the tobacco industry. This vote makes a similar statement in relation to fossil fuel investments and the immediate and grave threats to human health posed by climate change, said Hugh Montgomery, Professor of intensive care medicine at UCL and executive board member of the Climate and Health Council. It is to be hoped that all organisations and individuals will follow their lead, and will similarly act with principle.”
In addition to climate change, the combustion of fossil fuels causes the emission of soot (which causes lung cancer), carbon monoxide (highly toxic), sulfur dioxide (highly toxic), other pollutants into the air and subsequently the water due to acid rain. Health charities Medact, the Climate and Health Council, and Healthy Planet UK supported the decision and encourage other health organizations to do the same.
The decision to divest was brought about by the BMA’s Retired Members Forum and several other committees. There are other organizations in the UK which have chosen to divest from fossil fuels, such as the Brighthelm Church and Community Centre. There is a similar reason for a church to divest, because churches are for the common good as well, and it would be ironic for them to continue contributing to the ruin of their god’s creation via the use of coal-derived electricity, etc.
These decisions will likely cause other medical organizations and churches to divest from fossil fuels in the near future. For many a first, there is a domino effect.