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Fossil Fuels, the Fossil Fuel industry and Public Health: the case for ending extraction and exploration to protect public health

The Faculty of Public Health has published a new position statement on fossil fuels which describes the harms and inequitable health impacts associated with these fuels at every stage of their life cycle; from extraction and transport to combustion and disposal, including those associated with air pollution, energy poverty and cold homes, and the central role of our fossil fuel-dependent energy system in driving the many health harms of the climate crisis. 

The statement also outlines the value of a commercial determinants of health perspective, and draws on lessons learnt in addressing other harmful industries (for example, tobacco and sugar-sweetened beverages) in making the case for action to protect health from the fossil fuel industry’s practices and products.

FPH President Professor Kevin Fenton, said: “The Faculty of Public Health recognises the climate crisis as the greatest threat to human health this century, and we know that the use of fossil fuels has a devastating impact on the life chances of populations across the globe.

"By creating a future free from fossil fuels we have the opportunity to realise huge benefits for human and planetary health, as well as reduce the global inequalities that are being exacerbated by the use of fossil fuels.

"This new position statement from the Faculty outlines the public health case for ending fossil fuel expansion and offers guidance for local, regional, national, and international public health teams to take action on fossil fuels.”

Professor Sharon Friel, ARC Laureate Fellow, Professor of Health Equity and Director of the Planetary Health Equity Hothouse at the Australian National University, said: “I think this position statement is a fantastic document, and really positive to see the Faculty of Public health taking such a progressive position on these issues that shape all of our health.  I hope we will see many more health institutions follow suit.”

Future work planned by the FPH Sustainable Development SIG includes advocacy activities around the need to end fossil fuel expansion and for a just transition towards clean energy at national and international levels, as well as training and ongoing work to incorporate the principles from the document into public health work at local levels.

Read the position statement

Published 08 April 2024

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