UCL Medical School


UCL Medical School declares a Climate Emergency

11 May 2021

As a medical school, we are declaring a Climate and Ecological Emergency. Without a change of course, we are at risk of a major health crisis over the coming decades. 

Wind turbines

By accelerating our transition to a low-carbon economy and utilising green technologies we can protect our families, economy, and healthcare system, creating a safer and healthier world for everyone. 

“UCL Medical School adds its endorsement and voice to contributing to tackling the climate emergency. We acknowledge that the climate crisis is a health emergency.

Along with our students, staff and the University, we will look towards reducing our carbon footprint, educating our students on sustainable healthcare issues and working with our communities to advocate for change.” 

Dr Faye Gishen, Acting Director, UCL Medical School

COVID-19 has spread across the globe and taken the lives of patients and colleagues, leaving behind families and teams that will never be the same without them. Like COVID-19, climate change is a global crisis that has the potential to get much worse very quickly. If we are to learn one lesson from COVID-19, it is that we must act early to avoid losing control of the impacts on our health and economy.

Positive feedback loops are already accelerating the rate of warming and narrowing our window of opportunity to respond. 

Our health depends on protecting our climate: we must act now.

We must accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy and stop adding carbon-dioxide to our atmosphere. If not, the effects of climate change will increasingly threaten lives and livelihoods and compromise the hospitals and clinics we depend on.

We are all at risk from extreme weather, food and water insecurity, and changing patterns of infectious diseases, with those who live in deprived or precarious circumstances most likely to be affected. We are also at risk of major disruption at a societal level, with impacts on wellbeing, jobs, and economies, all of which affect health. 

The UK’s target of net-zero by 2050 gives us only a 50% chance of avoiding the rise in global temperatures that will lead to disaster. The Paris Climate Agreement of 2016 aimed to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5°C but we are not on track to meet that target.

We must be much more ambitious in cutting greenhouse gas emissions as rapidly as possible. We can look after each other and create a safer, fairer, and healthier world. As medical schools, we are committed to being a part of this change. 

The Climate Emergency is a Health Emergency.


UCL Medical School