Medical groups: Climate change is 'greatest public health challenge of the 21st century'

Medical groups: Climate change is 'greatest public health challenge of the 21st century'
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Dozens of medical and public health groups are calling on elected officials and candidates to commit to an agenda to combat climate change.

“The health, safety and well-being of millions of people in the U.S. have already been harmed by human-caused climate change, and health risks in the future are dire without urgent action to fight climate change,” the 74 groups, including the American Medical Association and the American Heart Association, said in a letter Monday.

They called climate change the "greatest public health challenge of the 21st century."

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The groups are pressing elected officials and presidential candidates to “meet and strengthen U.S. commitments” under the 2015 United Nations climate agreement from which President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch To ward off recession, Trump should keep his mouth and smartphone shut Trump: 'Who is our bigger enemy,' Fed chief or Chinese leader? MORE has vowed to withdraw the U.S.

Their agenda also mentions carbon pricing, without any reference to potentially taxing emissions, and “a plan and timeline for reduction of fossil fuel extraction in the U.S.”

The letter comes ahead of the first Democratic primary debates this week, when White House hopefuls are expected to touch upon their plans to address the climate crisis.

The groups are not calling for an outright ban on the oil and gas extraction technique known as hydraulic fracturing, unlike many 2020 Democratic hopefuls.

Other organizations that signed on to the agenda include the American Lung Association, the American College of Physicians and multiple state-level and academic public health groups.