Let’s make sure that doctors are heard to speak out on climate change

School children have taken to the street again today to protest against climate change. Hundreds of thousands of young people are estimated to have taken part in today’s school climate strikes, which are expected to be the largest so far. They are sacrificing their education to demand climate justice, and they are right to be terrified for their future. They will live through the consequences of climate and environmental breakdown. They will be most affected by floods, extreme temperatures, wildfires, mass migration and wars.

The healthcare profession should be supporting them. Only drastic and urgent measures can alter the future we’re headed towards.

Recent political advances, including a the UK parliament declaring a climate emergency, mean nothing unless followed up with actions. Doctors have a powerful voice. They can give the climate fight legitimacy and support school children in calling on the government to make the necessary changes.

The climate crisis will affect every one of us, sooner or later. Recent news has highlighted the beginnings of such impacts in the UK. The floods in Cumbria in 2009 and 2015 have been officially labelled as the worst on record. Entire coastal communities are going to need to relocate as coastal erosion takes over—114 miles of coastline can no longer be protected.   

Building on recent articles in The BMJ, we reiterate the need for doctors to find, and use, their voice to shout for the health and wellbeing of future generations. We have 11 years to act. Take a moment this #fridaysforfuture and think about how you can increase your role in this fight.

Here are two things you can do right now. You could sign this letter, “Doctors in support of youth strike for climate,” which is a declaration of support for young people fighting for their futures. You could also talk about climate and environmental breakdown with your families, friends, and patients. As a profession, we no longer have the right to ignore this as it will affect our future health and wellbeing. The science is clear, and we are a respected profession to whom people listen. Let’s make sure we’re heard.


Anya Göpfert, junior doctor, current national medical director’s clinical fellow. @AnyaGopfert




Maria Van Hove, junior doctor, current national medical director’s clinical fellow. @mc_vanhove




Competing interests: None declared.