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Clean Air Day 2024: RCOG joins calls for a global treaty to phase out fossil fuels and transition to renewable energy

20 Jun 2024

In recognition that the burning of fossil fuels contributes significantly to air pollution, which has known impacts on women’s health throughout their lives and during pregnancy, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), has joined with other health organisations across the world to call for a rapid, equitable phase-out of fossil fuels to protect the health and lives of current and future generations.

Air pollution exposure contributes to cardiovascular disease, respiratory conditions, and cancers. Furthermore, exposure during fetal development and early childhood can have long-term impacts on health, with consistent evidence that exposure to particulate matter during pregnancy increases the risk of poor pregnancy outcomes including stillbirth, low birth weight and preterm birth.

There is a clear need to transition away from fossil fuels to sources of energy that are better for our health, and end the expansion of new coal, oil and gas projects. A Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty would help support international climate change commitments in the Paris Agreement by setting out an evidence-based global roadmap towards this reality.

Dr Ranee Thakar, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “As a healthcare professional working in women‘s health, I find it impossible to ignore pollution, nature loss and mounting numbers of broken temperature records. These heavily connected issues pose clear threats to global health, with women and girls being the first to feel the effects.

“The RCOG has long advocated for bolder action on air quality in the UK, highlighting its relevance to the persistent racial, ethnic and socioeconomic inequalities found in maternal and perinatal outcomes. I urge everyone to explore the evidence on air pollution in women’s health, and advocate for change in whichever way you can. Collectively, we can make a difference!”

More information

  • Read more about the call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty here.
  • Visit the Clean Air Day Knowledge Hub for healthcare professionals here.
  • Read more about the relevance of air pollution to obstetrics and gynaecology professionals in this IJGO here.
  • Complete our RCOG Learning modules on Climate and Health, free for everyone here
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