Ethics Grand Rounds, February 2, 2024, 12 - 1 PM CST

Health, Equity and Climate Change

Zoom | Free | Open to the public
Headshot of Dr. Julian Sheather
Julian Sheather, PhD


According to the World Health Organization, climate change is the single biggest threat facing humanity. Tackling the health threats of climate change, including by mitigation and adaptation, will be critical in the coming decades. Climate change gives rise to profound questions of equity or fairness. Those nations who have contributed most to climate change are not the ones most effected by it. Those nations and peoples most effected by it are often those with the fewest resources to tackle it. In addition, climate change has profound implications for younger generations, and for generations as yet unborn. Responding to the health impacts of climate change therefore involves complex questions of global and intergenerational equity and fairness. Climate change also puts centre-stage the dependence of human health on the health of the world's ecosystems. This gives rise to challenging ethical questions about whether duties are owed to non-human parts of the biosphere. This talk explores the range of equity issues that health and climate change give rise to. 

Learning Objectives: After attending this webinar, attendees will be able to:

  • Understand in outline the key equity issues and challenges that climate change gives rise to.
  • Understand how health and climate change presents challenges to human-centred or anthropocentric concepts of equity and fairness.
  • Gain insight into the complexity of practical responses to health and climate change, including questions of identifying responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions, deciding what, if any reparative obligations are owed and what kinds of global governance might be required.

This is an event of the Office of Academic Clinical Affairs (OACA), hosted by the Center for Bioethics, and co-sponsored by the following U of MN Units:  Center for Antiracism Research for Health Equity, School of Public Health; Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility, Office of Academic Clinical Affairs; Center for Race, Indigeneity, Disability, Gender, & Sexuality Studies, College of Liberal Arts; Center for Science Technology, and Environmental Policy, Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs; College of Pharmacy; Program in Health Disparities Research, Medical School; Institute on the Environment; School of Dentistry; School of Public Health; School of Nursing.


Julian Sheather, PhD, is a writer and consultant ethicist. He is an adviser on health, ethics and
climate change to the World Health Organization, a special adviser in ethics and human rights to the British Medical Association, and a humanitarian ethics adviser to Médecins Sans Frontières. His
interests lie in climate ethics, health and human rights, medical ethics in times of conflict,
humanitarian ethics, clinical ethics and the ethics of public health. He writes widely on issues in
ethics, health, humanitarian ethics and climate change. He is the author of Is Medicine Still Good For us and a co-author of Medical Ethics Today, the BMA's handbook on medical ethics and medical law, Assessment of Mental Capacity (with the Law Society) and is a regular contributor to the British Medical Journal and The Journal of Medical Ethics. He sits on the British Medical Journal’s ethics committee, and was a member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics’ working group on ethical aspects of research in global health emergencies. He lectures widely both nationally and internationally on a range of topics in medical, humanitarian and environmental ethics.