Global | Powering Past Coal: Treating the climate with coal phase-out

Courtney Howard, president-elect of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, at the release of the Canada brief of the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change, at the CHEO hospital on Nov. 2 in Ottawa. Photo by Alex Tétreault

During the UN Climate Negotiations at COP23 in Bonn, Germany, Canada and the UK announced the Powering Past Coal Alliance with 25 other governments from around the world to accelerate the global phase-out of coal-fired power plants.

The alliance highlighted the health effects of coal in both its declaration and launch event, which featured a powerful address by Dr. Courtney Howard of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment. “Health professionals worldwide are beginning to treat climate change by prescribing an end to coal,” said Dr. Howard.

“Phasing out coal is about reducing the 44 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions due to coal—and the trauma, displacement and heat-related deaths associated with severe weather events due to climate change. It’s about a future with less burns and cough-inducing smoke clouds from wildfires, less conflict and migration, and less undernourished children.”

“Phasing out coal is also about seeing less kids with asthma puffers from air pollution—less costly ER visits for asthma, less time off school and work. It’s about less morbidity and deaths from the long-term health impacts of coal-related air pollution—cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, lower respiratory infection. It’s about less neurodevelopmental problems from mercury, and less polluted water and habitat loss from coal extraction.”

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