The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has announced that a gas and oil industry conference that was due to take place at RCGP headquarters in London has been cancelled. The College said the event does not match the organisation’s position on climate change.
Professor Martin Marshall, RCGP Chair, said: “We deeply regret that a booking was accepted to host an event at our headquarters that conflicts with the College’s longstanding commitment to combat the impact of climate change on the environment and on the health of our patients.
“The conference in question was clearly not a College event, but it would have compromised our integrity as the first medical Royal College to divest from fossil fuel companies. We are extremely conscious of the irreversible damage being caused by gas, electricity and oil companies in their exploitation of energy reserves, and the direct link this has on greenhouse gas emissions,” Prof Marshall added.
The RCGP building at 30 Euston Square also operates as an external conference venue and is contracted out by the College to a third party event management company. Prof Marshall said, whilst there is guidance about who can use the premises, it did not explicitly exclude fossil fuel companies.
“This was an oversight on our part and we apologise to our members and thank them for their patience while we worked through a number of complicated issues, including the legal implications of our action,” he said.
“We are already in the process of reviewing the contractual agreement in place and the policies we have with the event management company. We are also reviewing our College sponsorship policy and will ensure that any third party activity is aligned with this to guard against a similar situation ever happening again in future.”