As nurses we instinctively know that patient health is closely tied to the patient’s environment. This discussion paper on climate change and health urges nurses to consider the macro-level of our environment: planet Earth. Over the coming decades, our rapidly changing climate will pose the biggest threat to human health and well-being across every region of our planet.
Like all research on climate change, this discussion paper sheds light on the major challenges ahead for humanity and for health care as our global climate changes and average temperatures rise. This discussion paper also sets out concrete steps and actions that nurses and their unions can take to make a meaningful difference. As the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions we can and must do more to advocate for economic and social transitions to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and to pass on a healthier and more sustainable planet to our children and grandchildren. As well, we can and must do more to create resiliency within our health care communities and prepare effectively for the challenges to come as our climate changes. The recommendations in this discussion paper offer nurses a starting-off point for advocacy and leadership to tackle climate change.