main banner
You are here: Home page » Resources » Letters

To: MEPs
Re: Plenary vote on the “Motion for a Resolution on the EU strategy for the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change (COP 15)”, 25 November

Brussels, 23 November 2009

To: Members of the European Parliament

Concerning: Plenary vote on the “Motion for a Resolution on the EU strategy for the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change (COP 15)”, 25 November

Bring health to the centre of climate change towards Copenhagen and beyond: What’s good for climate is good for health

Dear Member of the European Parliament,

While we welcome the European Parliament‟s resolution on climate change and its call for binding reduction emission targets, we would like to highlight one striking omission; a reference to tremendous impact climate change has on people‟s health, and how actions to reduce emissions will have large, immediate benefits to people‟s health in Europe.

The urgent call to include health more centrally in climate negotiations is being voiced not only by the World Health Organisation, but also also by our new campaign, The Prescription for a Healthy Planet, signed by over 70 organisations globally, represents millions of health professionals in more than 120 countries following endorsements from groups such as World Federation of Public Health Associations, International Council of Nurses, and Standing Committee of European Doctors.

During the international climate talks in Barcelona earlier this month, the UNFCCC negotiating draft also now explicitly recognises the need to include health protection, and amendments were considered to highlight the health benefits of strict emission targets.1

As Parliamentarians, you also can ensure that your Resolution does not lag behind what is currently being discussed at UN level on health. On Wednesday, November 25, you will have an opportunity to support the “health” amendments tabled by Greens/EFA and ALDE that will help bring health back into the climate discussions in your plenary vote on the Resolution on the EU Strategy for the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change.

We, the undersigned leading health organizations, together with some of the world‟s largest medical, nursing and health organizations are calling on world leaders and you as EU decision-makers to take bold action to address climate change. This is crucial to avoid what could become a global public health crisis. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that climate change is already contributing to 150,000 deaths per year.2 . Recent science3 from European respiratory doctors has shown that for every one degree Celsius increase in temperature over a city-specific heat threshold, the death rate among respiratory patients increases six-fold4. As climate change advances, a "multiplier effect" will be seen on these and other conditions. Those already the most vulnerable will suffer earliest and most.

Please support amendments tabled by Greens/EFA and ALDE (see below) which bring health into climate change discussions and policy outcomes.

The latest science suggests that a reduction in greenhouse gases by at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2020 is the minimum required to keep global warming well below the dangerous 2°C level. This would significantly improve people‟s health, reduce Member States’ rising healthcare costs and protect our fragile ecosystems. Moreover, the co-benefits of tackling climate change will offset much of the costs according to the IPCC 4th Assessment report5.

Our four, clear recommendations for the Copenhagen treaty are set out in the "Prescription for a Healthy Planet6“(see attachment). They are: the protection of public health, strong targets on emission reductions, the promotion of clean energy, and a mandate for major funding for developing countries to address the climate crisis.

The “Prescription” is signed and supported by major health organizations and networks, including the International Council of Nurses (a global federation of national nursing organizations representing nurses in 128 countries), the International Society of Doctors for the Environment, the Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME), which represents 27 medical associations in Europe, the European Respiratory Society (ERS), Climate and Health Council (CHC), Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) and many more. In the United States a parallel initiative from healthcare leaders representing hundreds of hospitals and nearly three million health professionals is calling on President Obama to support the points made in the “Prescription”.

We strongly encourage you to vote in favour of the proposed amendments tabled by Greens/EFA and ALDE which would help strengthen the health aspect in your “Resolution” by ensuring better protection of public health from climate change.


Genon K. Jensen, Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL)

On behalf of:

  • Health Care Without Harm Europe (HCWH Europe)
  • European Respiratory Society (ERS)
  • Climate and Health Council (CHC)
  • International Society of Doctors for the Environment (ISDE)
  • ÄrztInnen für eine gesunde Umwelt, AeGU (ISDE Austria)
  • The Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME)
  • European Public Health Alliance (EPHA).

1. See HEAL/HCWH/Climateand Health Council Letter on Barcelona negotiations:


3. ERS Position Statement, Climate change and respiratory disease: European Respiratory Society position statement, J G Ayres et al, European Respiratory Journal 2009; 34: 295-302. (HTML), (PDF)

4. The European Respiratory Journal (ERJ), „Climate Change and Respiratory Disease: European Respiratory Society position statement‟; available at:

5. IPCC Fourth Assessment Report – Chapter 8 – Human Health;


Last updated on 13 June 2011

About HEAL

The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a leading European not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union (EU). We demonstrate how policy changes can help protect health and enhance people’s quality of life. Read more »


HEAL has over 70 member organisations, representing health professionals, not-for-profit health insurers, doctors, nurses, cancer and asthma groups, citizens, women’s groups, youth groups, environmental NGOs, scientists and public health institutes. Members include international and Europe-wide organisations, as well as national and local groups. Read more »

Contact us

Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL)
28 Boulevard Charlemagne
B1000 Brussels, Belgium
Phone: +32 2 234 3640
Fax: +32 2 234 3649
Press: Elke Zander

Direct telephone numbers: HEAL team page.

HEAL website privacy policy