Leading Scottish and international health experts (including Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer) speaking at a free evening webinar on climate change and health by the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (RCPE) will this week set out how health professionals in Scotland and worldwide plan to build on COP26.

The webinar will take place on Thursday 26th May. It will be chaired by The Honourable Kirsty Duncan PC MP, Chair, Standing Committee on Science and Research of the Government of Canada.

The keynote speaker is Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Sir Gregor Smith, who will discuss the role of the Health Directorate in shaping Scotland’s climate response and how working in partnership can bring about change.

Among others, attendees will also hear from Dr Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, Head, Climate Change and Health, World Health Organisation about the role of WHO and member states.

In advance of the 26th May webinar, Sir Gregor said:

 If the global health care sector were a country, it would be the fifth-largest greenhouse gas emitter on the planet.

We cannot overestimate the power of human connection. Our ability to share ideas, spread good practice and innovate, all stem from it. If we value and strengthen our human connections, together we can change the culture of NHS Scotland, to become a greener, more planet friendly organisation.

Professor Andrew Elder, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, who will talk about the College’s role, said:

 I hope many physicians and others with an interest in the interaction between our climate and our health care systems – which should be everyone - will join this week’s final Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh COP26 legacy series webinar.  In the months since COP26 ever more serious warnings have been issued about the pace and scale of climate change, its looming consequences and the – as yet – suboptimal response of the international community.

 With climate change the greatest threat to health globally, it is vital that we deliver clinical care in a climate sensitive and adaptive manner and that we take advantage of the power of international and local partnerships to bring about change. Achieving this requires education, conversation and collaboration across our clinical communities. The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh has a strong network of international fellows and is well placed to support physicians to share best practice across the world.

Professor Liz Grant, Assistant Principal (Global Health) and Director of the Global Health Academy at the University of Edinburgh, who has worked with the RCPE on the series of webinars, said:

Global UN reports and the media are highlighting, on an almost weekly basis, that there is an escalating  climate crisis, and the pandemic brought home what we knew already, that populations the world over are facing  major health crises.  But somehow we have missed the obvious – the two crises are intricately linked creating a vicious cycle.    

Our series has shown this intersection but also put forward visionary ways of tackling these crises together, reducing harms, and achieving co-benefits.  In this final analysis global, national and local leaders will set out ways of working for a healthier future.


1. Media can book a free place to the 26th May webinar via the following link: COP26 Legacy Series: Building our COP26 legacy with eyes on COP27 | RCPE Events

2. More information about the free COP26 Legacy Series, including a programme and booking link, can be found here: https://events.rcpe.ac.uk/cop26-legacy-series-climate-change-and-health-big-picture

3. The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (RCPE) helps qualified doctors to pursue their careers in specialist (internal) medicine through medical examinations, education and training. RCPE also provides resources and information to support and facilitate professional development for physicians throughout their careers. The College helps to develop standards of medical care and training, and influences health policy. It ensures that the views and practical clinical experiences of its membership are taken into account by health policymakers throughout the UK.

4. RCPE established an Advisory Forum on the Environment which is examining what more it can do to reduce its carbon footprint, in addition to actions already taken including offering sustainable catering solutions and providing recyclable drinking cups across the College buildings. The College also contributed to and supported a recent statement on the climate emergency by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties in Scotland, of which it is an active member: http://www.scottishacademy.org.uk/statement-climate-emergency

5. The RCPE response to COP26 can be read here: https://www.rcpe.ac.uk/college/statement-climate-change-and-sustainability-reaction-cop26-agreement