Walking the talk - how can HIFA members reduce global aviation emissions?

26 December, 2019

Dear colleagues,

It has been gratifying to both of us (Neil and Erica) to see this HIFA conversation, and the growth of the academic/health flying less movement, and we think there is an opportunity to markedly accelerate our effect. Next September 14-16, the American [https://policysearch.ama-assn.org/policyfinder/detail/climate%20change?u..., British [http://www.ukhealthalliance.org/members/], Canadian [https://policybase.cma.ca/en/viewer?file=%2fdocuments%2fPolicypdf%2fPD10..., World [https://www.wma.net/policies-post/wma-resolution-on-climate-emergency/] and other Medical Associations will be meeting in London (for this doc health conf https://www.bma.org.uk/events/2020/september/international-conference-on... ), and we would like to co-create with HIFA members and some of those/other health leaders an Academic/Health Flying Less Summit just before or after -- in London for those nearby, and modelling the activity with helpful others in the diaspora on their laptops. While all these medical organizations have made enthusiastic policy commitments to reducing climate change, there remains an enormous carbon footprint around travel for the meetings all these organizations regularly sponsor, and the countless others their members regularly attend. Such travel typically is by far the largest carbon footprint of any of us who fly (have a look at this for-me-life-changing-bar graph [https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxNu1Nv4t3B7U2t3RjVZUXY1bGpYOFFDWUNOQlo...), and I think we could model and get our professional organizations to commit to meaningfully changing this outlier-carbon-intensive practice...

All of these organizations have serious climate change policy (that's what the links above go to) -- in fact the UK Health Alliance's climate change policy recommendations (like others') mandate our action:

'As health professionals we have a duty to protect and promote public health in the face of these threats, and a unique and vital role to play. Our expertise, diverse roles and the trust invested in us mean we are, and should be, leaders in protecting the public from the health consequences of climate change. We know that actions that protect our planet, and mitigate climate change, are also good for our health. Phasing out polluting vehicles...'

I (Erica) have been actively working to reduce academicians'/physicians' carbon footprint since 2008, when I got the American Medical Association to pass this progressive climate policy, and was President of Physicians for Social Responsibility, switching PSR to having 2 vs 3 yearly in-person Board meetings. And Neil (through www.HIFA.org) and I (through www.NextGenU.org) both are committed to promoting investment in virtual communications, which are more inclusive, more equitable, less expensive, much less environmentally damaging, and potentially more effective than physical conferences -- and we'd love you to join us!

We see this gathering as a high impact, low carbon opportunity to readily advance our cause of reducing academic and physician travel, and of having that as not only an inherent good but as a critical role/population for modelling this behavior for others. We hope that you'll be interested in joining us, and look forward to hearing from you.

Yours, in walking the talk/grounding those Santa-shlepping reindeer,

Erica and Neil

Erica Frank, MD, MPH, FACPM

Professor + Canada Research Chair, University of British Columbia

Founder, www.NextGenU.org

Principal Investigator, Healthy Doc = Healthy Patient

HIFA profile: Erica Frank is the Founder and President of NextGenU.org, the world's first portal to free, accredited higher education, now being used in 193 (of 195) countries, and offering the world's first free degree (a Master's degree in Public Health), as well as a MedSchoolInABox that includes Graduate Medical Education. Erica is Professor and Canada Research Chair of Preventive Medicine and Population Health at the University of British Columbia, Canada, and is a physician specializing in preventive medicine. Her research established the strong and consistent influence of clinicians' health habits on their patients. She was Co-Editor in Chief of the journal Preventive Medicine (1994-1999), and the 2008 President of the Nobel Peace Prize winning (1985 and 2017) Physicians for Social Responsibility. erica.frank AT ubc.ca

HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - www.hifa.org ), a global community with almost 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages (English, French, Spanish, Portuguese). Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG neil AT hifa.org