RCPsych at COP26

What is the future for healthcare if we do nothing about the climate crisis?

That’s the question we were discussing yesterday in the event was staged at COP26, to explore the links between a healthy planet and a healthy population.

The special event, chaired by our President, Dr Adrian James, and run in conjunction with the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, was watched by people at the WHO Health Pavilion in Glasgow, and remotely across the UK and the world.

RCPsych sustainability lead Dr Lisa Page, air pollution expert Professor Sir Stephen Holgate, paediatrician Dr Rosie Spooner, whose work pairs sustainability metrics with health outcomes, and Dr Lynne Jones, a child psychiatrist and UNICEF and WHO consultant, were the speakers.

Our event was part of Spotlight Day, a Greener NHS initiative in which health organisations recognised the importance of taking action in relation to the climate crisis.

Attending COP26

A delegation of RCPsych members and staff has been at COP26 since it opened, emphasising the links between mental health, healthcare and the climate crisis, and lobbying for these links to be recognised in future events.

We’ve also been promoting our eco-distress resources for young people, especially last Friday when the theme at the conference was Youth and empowerment.

Our delegation were speaking to decision-makers, scientists, young people who had travelled from across the world to attend the conference, and a range of other delegates – it is our hope that Health will be one of the themes of COP27 and that we will have an even bigger profile.

Among those we spoke to were youth activists from Chile and Ecuador (pictured), and former Labour Party leader and now Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Ed Miliband.

Youth activists from Chile and Ecuador

We captured our activities on social media channels – so you can catch up with what we were doing on twitter @RCPsychGreen and on #RCPsychClimate, and by looking at our COP26 blogs which were brilliantly written by our members who attended the event.

How can you help?

The College’s website has a large section about sustainability and the actions you can take to make your practice more sustainable.

Earlier this year we published a position statement setting out what the College is doing and what we’re calling on others to do, as well as why the climate and ecological emergency is a mental health emergency.

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