This is a health emergency! Doctors spark mass flyposting of petrol pumps with graphic health warnings across UK - Extinction Rebellion UK

This is a health emergency! Doctors spark mass flyposting of petrol pumps with graphic health warnings across UK

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  • Over 20,000 warning labels were stuck to petrol pumps all over England, Scotland and Wales last night.
  • Doctors stood on ambulances to protest at a petrol station this morning with a banner saying “Harmful Products Need Health Warnings”

Last night, over 20,000 warning labels were stuck to petrol pumps all over England, Scotland and Wales, as part of a national campaign led by Doctors for Extinction Rebellion.

Graphic labels were designed by the doctors to resemble existing cigarette packet health warnings; the government’s “Stay Alert” coronavirus banners; and the wartime “Your country needs you” posters, with David Attenborough’s face replacing that of Lord Kitchener.

They sent stickers out for free to over 300 Extinction Rebellion groups to raise awareness of the severe health impacts of fossil fuels. 

To make their point clearer the group stood on ambulances (hired from an events company) to protest at a petrol station this morning, with a banner saying “Harmful Products Need Health Warnings”.

This builds on growing calls for health warning labels on petrol pumps from the medical profession. Public health experts Professor Sir Andy Haines, Professor Kristie Ebi and Mike Gill, wrote recently in a British Medical Journal article [1];

“There is an opportunity for national and local governments to implement labelling of fossil fuels in the run-up to COP26 in Glasgow, and in particular for the UK Government, as the host of the COP, to show leadership, as part of a package of measures to accelerate progress on getting to ‘Net Zero’ emissions.”

These warning labels aren’t the first attached to fuel pumps. After years of campaigning by the Swedish Association of Green Motorists, the first “Eco-labels” were put on Swedish fuel pumps on July 6th this year [2] Cambridge, Massachusetts also unanimously passed a law on January 13th 2020 requiring public safety warnings [3] at fuel pumps. aA petition has just been published on the government petition’s page calling for the same in the UK [4]

In particular the group raised concerns about the levels of pollution in inner city areas. The ambulances action took place in the London Borough of Newham, which has the highest levels of particulate pollution in the country despite having the 4th lowest car ownership [5] [6].

Co-Founder of the Doctors for Extinction Rebellion group Dr Chris Newman, a GP in Tottenham said: “It is our duty as health professionals to warn the public that continued fossil fuel use is wrecking our life support systems. We no longer have time to ask for permission. As a group we will continue to do what the science and our duty of care asks of us, and we urge our government to do the same. If we must break the law to do our duty, then we will do so.

Consultant child psychiatrist and relief worker, Dr. Lynne Jones OBE said: “There is growing evidence that air pollution is associated with learning difficulties in children, and may affect the baby in the womb, increasing the risk of autism. Fossil fuels are damaging our children’s brains before they’re even born, and we have to do something about it.

Maggie Fay, Dementia Specialist Nurse and co-founder of Earth Nurse said: “Fellow nurses all around the world are seeing the impacts of climate change in their daily practice right now. They manage kidney failure during heatwaves. They care for malnourished children in times of famine. They bandage wounded soldiers in climate-induced conflict. Climate change amplifies this suffering, and fossil fuels are the main driver. We must do whatever we can to make fossil fuels a thing of the past.

Dr David McKelvey, GP in Salford said: “By strengthening cycle networks, increasing public transport, building on the growth in teleworking, and encouraging localism we can make the air cleaner, our climate safer and our neighbourhoods better places to live. This drive to get off fossil fuels and move rapidly away from the internal combustion engine will clearly improve our patients’ health.

Notes to Editors

[1] We need health warning labels on points of sale of fossil fuels [British Medical Journal]

[2] Kraftringen – The first company in the world to put eco-labels on their fuel pumps

[3] Cambridge City Council, Massachusetts.Minutes of meeting. Jan 13, 2020

[4] Require health warnings at point of purchase of fossil fuel energy eg. petrol [ petition]

[5] Background pollution data (DEFRA)

[6] Car ownership rates per local authority in England and Wales (RAC)
[7] Petrol Pump stickers


Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction, global pollution, and abrupt, runaway climate change. Societal collapse and mass death are seen as inevitable by scientists and other credible voices, with human extinction also a possibility, if rapid action is not taken.

Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by their Government.

Extinction Rebellion’s key demands are:

  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 

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Extinction Rebellion emerged from the Rising Up! network, which promotes a fundamental change of our political and economic system to one which maximises well-being and minimises harm. Change needs to be nurtured in a culture of reverence, gratitude and inclusion while the tools of civil disobedience and direct action are used to express our collective power.

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