Canadian Medical Association dumps fossil fuels

Next time Stephen Harper's sitting his.

Next time Stephen Harper’s sitting his butt down on crinkly paper at the doctor’s office, he’d better hope that his GP doesn’t give him a lecture on the negative health impacts of climate inaction. 

Last week the Canadian Medical Association voted to divest, at least in part, its holdings in fossil-fuel-based energy companies. The CMA also voted to promote the positive health impacts of putting a price on carbon emissions.

Proponents of the move, led by Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) board member Courtney Howard, had been lobbying their peers for three years before the motion finally passed. 

“As a northern doctor, working for action on climate health is one of the most important things I can do for my patients,” said the Yellowknife-based Howard. “We are seeing respiratory effects from forest fire smoke, decreased stability of ice roads and changes in the availability of traditional foodstuffs.” 

The CMA is following in the footsteps of the British Medical Association, which divested its fossil fuel holdings last summer.

The association’s move is largely symbolic, since only about $1.8 million of its $29 million reserve fund is invested in fossil fuels. It hasn’t asked the same of its $40 billion MD Financial Management company, though MDFM says it’s researching low-carbon investment options and is studying the impacts of divestment. 

At our current pace, the World Health Organization estimates that the direct health costs of climate change could climb to US $4 billion a year by 2030.

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