The UK’s oldest medical trade union has sent an open letter to the four Labour party leadership contenders, demanding they recognise climate change as a public health emergency. 

Doctors in Unite said that flooding, heatwaves, tropical diseases and toxic air pollution are already putting the public’s health at risk.

The union’s chair Dr Jackie Applebee urged all candidates to commit to a series of transformative green policies, including massive public transport investment, extra money for hospitals during extreme weather events, and an increase in international aid for other nations affected by climate change.

“A Labour government managed to create the welfare state out of the ashes of the second world war,” she wrote. “You could make the UK a world leader in green technology and a beacon of hope for other countries to emulate.”

Doctors in Unite plans to protest the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow later this year, to highlight the devastating impact of climate change on the health of everyone in the UK.

Read the letter in full