US nursing union's support for action on climate change and health

Rebecca Gibbs's picture

I have just learned that the US nursing union, National Nurses United (NNU), 2015 Resolution Booklet includes a section on 'Environmental & Climate Justice'. The full text is very comprehensive and effectively sets out the root causes of climate change and its political and corporate context. Here I’ve extracted some of the items that relate directly to health and nursing:

• more than 8 million deaths worldwide are directly attributable to air pollution, primarily from the burning of fossil fuels and lack of access to clean energy, and vector-born diseases, such as malaria, dengue, yellow fever, and lyme, will spike as temperatures increase; and
• global warming and climate change will deepen the climate crisis that will magnify the already catastrophic health impacts of fossil fuel pollution, hunger and malnutrition due to desertification, devastation and displacement from severe weather events and sea level rise — all leading to immeasurable human suffering and economic devastation; and
• the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has
made it clear that global levels of greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced quickly in order to deal effectively with the climate crisis, and serious resources need to be committed to protecting the health and livelihoods of people impacted by climate change; and
• nurses in the U.S. and around the world recognize that bold action is needed to challenge the political and economic power of the fossil fuel industry to win health and environmental justice in our communities, to mitigate global warming, and avert a full-scale climate crisis; and
• NNU members have also participated in Registered Nurse Response Network disaster relief efforts, providing basic medical care services in the United States and the Philippines in direct response to weather disasters aggravated by the climate crisis.
• NNU, in the spirit of patient advocacy and a commitment to environmental and climate justice, will continue to engage in active solidarity with allied organizations to resist fossil fuel interests and specific “extreme energy” projects, like Keystone XL and other pipelines, deep sea drilling, tar sands extraction, hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), new construction of export terminals for coal, petroleum coke and liquified gas, oil trains, and refinery expansions; and
• NNU will continue to organize emergency relief for communities impacted by climate-related events both in the United States and internationally; and
• NNU will actively support a global approach to the climate crisis, and shares the international trade union movement’s commitment to secure a new global climate agreement under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change no later than December 2015; and
• NNU will support bold policy proposals to ensure that public services, including health and emergency services, are adequately resourced in order to deal with climate-related events and impacts; and
• that NNU will support the fossil fuel divestment movement as well as appropriate taxation of fossil fuel company profits and sales based on true environmental costs; and
• NNU will continue to work in our communities, nationally and internationally, to build the movement for environmental and climate justice.

The full text is available on pages 9 and 10 of the NNU Resolution Booklet attached.

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