The AAP’s “Global Climate Change and Children’s Health” policy statement, published in 2015, notes that rising global temperatures are causing major physical, chemical and ecological changes across the planet. There is wide consensus among scientific organizations and climatologists that climate change is the result of contemporary human activity.
Climate change poses threats to human health, safety & security and children are uniquely vulnerable to these threats. Given this knowledge, failure to take prompt, substantive action would be an act of injustice to all children.
The policy statement notes that “Pediatricians have a uniquely valuable role to play in the societal response” to climate change. Recommendations to pediatricians include:
- Work to promote medical educational opportunities regarding the effects of climate change on the environment and child health.
- Seek ways to reduce the carbon and environmental footprint of health facilities, including hospitals, medical offices and transport services. Consider ways to increase energy efficiency, incorporate renewable energy sources, reduce waste and promote public and active modes of transport (eg, walking, bicycling).
- Use existing anticipatory guidance as a framework for discussing climate change with families. Encourage family choices that reduce fuel consumption, such as utilization of public transportation or fuel-efficient vehicles. Serve as a personal role model for practices that promote environmental sustainability.
- Educate children, families and communities on emergency and disaster readiness.
- Advocate for local, national and international policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and for adaptation strategies that improve preparedness for anticipated climate-associated effects.
- Help to build a broader coalition across disciplines to address climate change at the local and national levels. Pediatricians are uniquely positioned to advocate for sustainable electricity-generating systems, accessible public and active transportation, plant-based food availability and green spaces that ultimately affect child and family health.
American Academy of Pediatrics