January 2020: Oil conference forced to cancel by doctors

Posted by: HealthXR - Posted on:

  • A major oil exploration conference was cancelled at the request of the building owners, the Royal College of General Practitioners
  • An online petition with over 1000 signatures alerted angry RCGP doctors who called an emergency meeting with the RCGP president
  • Extinction Rebellion had been planning a large protest
  • #GetOffOil #ClimateLeadership

The Oil and Gas UK “Exploration Conference” was today cancelled at the request of building owners, the Royal College of General Practitioners, after sustained pressure from both inside and outside the medical profession.

OGUK had booked the conference at the RCGP Euston office through intermediary Searcys without their prior knowledge.

Once alerted to this through an online petition, Extinction Rebellion began planning a major protest, and RCGP members from within the Doctors for Extinction Rebellion movement called emergency meetings with college leaders. Following an assessment of legal implications, it was felt that the severity of the conflict between oil exploration and health was too great to allow the event to continue. Professor Martin Marshall, chair of the College said:

“We deeply regret that a booking was accepted to host an event at our headquarters that conflicts with the College’s longstanding commitment to combat the impact of climate change on the environment and on the health of our patients… We are also reviewing our College Sponsorship policy and will ensure that any third party activity is aligned with this to guard against a similar situation ever happening again in the future”

The news was well received across the medical world. Dr James Szmankiewicz, strategy director at the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare said:

“It is completely unacceptable for an oil and gas exploration conference to be held in a venue associated with health. I am delighted that once the RCGP became aware of this error they showed exceptional leadership by cancelling.”

The conference was to advertise “drilling exploration” for new deposits of oil and gas in the North Sea, despite repeated warnings that the stability of our climate, so important for human health and happiness, requires that oil exploration is drastically reduced. 

Dr Angela Wilson, a spokesperson for Doctors for Extinction Rebellion said:

“The connection between fossil fuel use and poor health is getting stronger by the day. Already there are more excess deaths in the UK from air pollution [1] than from bowel and breast cancer combined [2] . The oil wells open already are enough to heat the world into a dangerously unstable position, exploring for more is a suicide mission. We need to get off Oil.”

Email: admin@doctorsforxr.com
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Notes for Editors

[1] Every breath we take: The lifelong impact of air pollution. This report from the RCP and the RCPCH examines the impact of exposure to air pollution across the course of a lifetime.

[2] Total deaths from Bowel (16655) and Breast (11453) cancer in 2017 were 28108. Research from Cancer Research UK using mortality data from 2017.

About Doctors for Extinction Rebellion

Doctors for Extinction Rebellion was set up in the wake of the Extinction Rebellion’s April 2019 protests, with the intent of legitimising the movement in the face of criticism from certain sections of the media. Their membership has grown to over 800 members in the last 8 months, and they have spread to America, Australia, Switzerland and Spain.

Doctors for Extinction Rebellion believes it is a doctor’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by their Government, and its refusal to safeguard the long-term health of its citizens.

Their demands match those of Extinction Rebellion i.e.

  1. Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
  2. Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
  3. Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.

What Emergency? | Extinction Rebellion in Numbers |This Is Not A Drill: An Extinction Rebellion Handbook