The world’s nurses, doctors and allied health professionals have today called on the world’s most powerful leaders to hasten the phase-out of coal-fired electricity generation to minimise the risk to human health from poor air quality.

Some 82 healthcare organisations from 30 countries around the world – representing more than 300,000 doctors, nurses and public health professionals – have released a joint statement calling on G7 nations to “accelerate the global transition away from coal-fired electricity”.

“Eliminating air pollution from coal-fired power plants provides immediate and significant air pollution related health benefits and health care savings,” the statement reads. “A coal phase-out also slows climate change, thereby reducing current and future illnesses and deaths from heatwaves, droughts, malnutrition, flooding, air pollution and wildfires.”

Globally around 3.7 million people die prematurely every year from conditions caused by or exacerbated by outdoor air pollution, such as heart disease, lung cancer and acute respiratory infections. The statement highlights renewable energy, energy conservation and energy efficiency as “readily available alternatives” to coal power with a far lower impact in human health.