The British Medical Association (BMA), representing doctors in the UK has voted to displace fossil fuel investment with renewables.

BMA is to transfer investments from businesses relying primarily on fossil fuel, investing in providers of renewable energy instead after voting at an annual meeting.

The vote shows BMA member support for the divestment movement, but the member elected Chief Officers still have to approve the final decision.

In the peer reviewed medical journal, BMJ, the BMA said via an editorial in March that the medical community should push for itself and its affiliates to divest from fossil fuels and invest in renewables and that medical professionals have a duty to influence others to mitigate the harmful effects of climate change on public health.

The editorial also compared doctors divestment from tobacco companies to divestment from fossil fuels.

The vote is supported by the Climate and Health Council, health professionals urging action on climate change for health and wellbeing benefits.

The charities run by health professionals and students campaigning for global policy change to improve public health and well being, Medact and Healthy Planet UK have both welcomed the vote, noting climate change as the greatest threat to human health in the 21st century.

David McCoy, public health doctor and chair of Medact, congratulated the BMA on taking a leadership role in the fight against climate change: “We need a completely radically different and sustainable pattern of energy production and consumption. Shifting money away from the fossil fuel industry is an important step in that direction. In the same way that ethical investors choose not to profit from tobacco and arm sales, the health community worldwide is correctly calling for divestment from another set of harmful activities.”

Medical student and Healthy Planet UK coordinator, Isobel Braithwaite said: “Climate change has profound implications for human health, as does the air pollution produced by fossil fuels. By adding the voice of health professionals, this decision will add considerable momentum to the international movement for divestment from fossil fuels.”