Royal College of GPs to divest from fossil fuels

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The UK’s professional body for GPs is to divest its holdings in fossil fuel companies.

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) made the decision last month at a meeting of the body’s Trustee Board.

The RCGP is the UK’s largest medical royal college, representing over 52,000 members active as doctors and physicians across the country.

In making the decision, College Chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, said: "What is good for the planet is usually good for our patients' health, and the NHS as a whole – and I am delighted that the College has made the decision to disinvest from fossil fuel companies, which we know contributes to climate change."

She also used the recent heatwave in the UK to draw attention to the dangers of excessive exposure to heat and sun. A recent MPs report warned that regular high temperatures in the future could lead to 7,000 deaths each year by 2050.

"We already face a seasonal crisis every winter that threatens to destabilise our national health service, but with our summers forecasted to become hotter and hotter, we risk the emergence of a second seasonal crisis, and the NHS will simply be unable to cope,” she added.

The college reportedly has a “modest” level of investment in fossil fuel companies, according to honorary treasurer Dr Steve Mowle. However, it was felt that the benefit these assets bring in was outweighed by the negative impacts on patients as a result of climate change.

The decision is the latest move from a UK institution on the issue of financial holdings in fossil fuels. The Church of England recently announced its willingness to divest from companies which haven’t made sufficient progress on climate change. The church is a major asset owner with a £12 billion endowment and investment fund.

Academic institutions, such as Edinburgh, Durham and Bristol universities, have also divested following campaigns from student groups. 

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