A DOCTOR from Henley says people’s health will suffer and there will be more disease unless stronger action is taken to tackle climate change.
York Road Hart Surgery partner Philip Unwin said it would put increased pressure on the local health system, at which point the situation would be irreversible.
He said: “It takes a big change in government policy to make a difference.”
Dr Unwin is the latest city figure to speak out in favor of the Climate and Environmental Emergencies Bill, due for second reading in the House of Commons later this month .
He said: “You hope it doesn’t affect your life, but I think we’re almost getting to the point where we need to do something to make a difference.
“It’s very difficult for some people, but if everyone did something it would be a lot easier.
“Obviously this affects countries where there is extreme weather conditions. These are people who are struggling because of crop failure and famine. Global warming affects the poorest people.
“If we look at Henley, we see more flooding and extreme weather conditions, but nothing that particularly affects our health. We are relatively well protected.
“By the time we, in our very privileged and protected situation, begin to feel the effects of climate change on health, it will have gone too far and will be irreversible.
“We had a crisis with covid and the whole country came to a standstill, but climate change is a much bigger problem. It is not yet high enough on the political and social agenda.
Zero Hour Oxfordshire, formerly CEE Bill Alliance Oxfordshire, is promoting the private member’s bill, but Henley MP John Howell declined to support it.
He believes the proposed legislation is flawed and says the government has already put in place targets to achieve net zero carbon and reverse the impact on nature.
Supporters say the bill “provides a framework for the decarbonization of the UK economy” and makes it a legal obligation for the government to commit to measures that limit the temperature rise to 1.5 degree above pre-industrial levels.
Last month, the editors of 200 health journals around the world issued an emergency call for action.
Dr Unwin, who has worked at Hart Surgery for over 30 years, says the link between climate change and health should not be underestimated.
He said: “There is no doubt that if the current climate trend continues, we will see an increase in disease patterns and health conditions directly related to the climate and ecological emergency with resulting pressures on our healthcare system. here in Oxfordshire.
“I am not an expert on climate change, but I am convinced that we should do whatever we can. It takes a big change in government policy to make a difference and achieving the goals they set is going to be really tough.
“Henley trying hard could be a good role model for other cities to follow and I think we should do as much as possible.
“I stopped a lot of the waste we had at home. I drive an electric car and make every effort not to use fuel unnecessarily.
Other local supporters of the bill include Brakspear CEO Tom Davies, Bremont co-founder Nick English, Ella’s Kitchen founder Paul Lindley, naturalist Professor Richard Fortey and broadcaster Ben Fogle, who lives to Fawley.
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