Media contact: Fiona Armstrong
2016 Media releases
10 October 2016
Australia’s leading health and medical experts are meeting in Canberra today to call on politicians to take immediate steps to protect the health of Australians from the impacts of climate change. A nation-wide consultation has revealed deep concern within the health sector that there is currently no national health plan to deal with the impacts of climate change.
• injuries and illnesses associated with extreme weather events, such as bushfires, extreme storms, flooding, and heatwaves
• the mental health impacts of disasters and their aftermath
• increased spread of infectious diseases
• worsening air quality
3 October 2016
Leading medical experts say Australia’s health system is unprepared for the impacts of climate change, leaving communities unnecessarily exposed.
In a national first, the Climate and Health Alliance surveyed more than 130 peak health bodies, unions and health professionals – including doctors, nurses, midwives, public health practitioners and psychologists – to evaluate the sector’s preparedness for the impacts of climate change.
The results uncovered major gaps and widespread concerns, with:
- High level of concern about the exposure of Australian patients to serious health issues worsening under climate change
- Overwhelming support (98%) for a national public policy response
“The results of our survey were explicit and urgent,” said Dr Liz Hanna, President of the Climate and Health Alliance.
“Health care professionals are deeply concerned that neither the Coalition nor Labor appear to have any idea of the threat posed by climate change to our physical and mental health.”
21 July 2016
Australia will fail to fulfil its obligations under the Paris climate change agreement if the Federal Government continues to ignore the health risks associated with climate change, experts warn.
A new report developed by Australian health groups and supported by leading health and medical experts outlines how Australia overlooks the health implications of climate change, leaving Australians vulnerable and the health sector underprepared.
Nobel Laureate for Medicine Professor Peter Doherty says the Health Department insists climate change mitigation is not of relevance to the portfolio, despite world health agencies naming climate change as the greatest threat to global health in the 21st Century.
“Heatwaves, heavy and sudden rainfall, flash flooding, and explosive bushfires pose obvious and serious risks to people’s health, both during the disaster and in the weeks and months following. These events are increasing as average temperatures rise,” Professor Doherty said.
Professor Doherty says Australia has no choice but to act.
11 July 2016
The human toll of manmade climate change has become clearer today with scientists in Europe finding it’s to blame for hundreds of heatwave deaths.
The team of scientists studied Europe’s deadly 2003 heatwave, using modelling to calculate that the majority of the 735 heat-related deaths recorded in central Paris were due to human-induced climate change.
The study, published in the Environmental Research Letters journal, also found manmade climate change had increased the risk of heat-related deaths by about 70% in central Paris and 20% in London.
Climate and Health Alliance president and heat and health researcher Dr Liz Hanna says it’s a groundbreaking study.
“This research is highly significant, as we can now separate the numbers – those who would have died in a naturally occurring heatwave, and the numbers who died because of burning fossil fuels and other activities contributing to climate change,” Dr Hanna said.
“We can now track the line of responsibility. Human-induced climate change is killing people and more must be done to avoid future deaths.”
20 June 2016
Most political parties in Australia do not have a clear commitment to tackling the risks of climate change on health and wellbeing, recent polling and policy analysis shows.
The Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) has released a scorecard rating the policies of Australia’s main political parties on climate change and health.
They show the Greens are the best performing party when it comes to protecting the community from the health impacts of climate change. The ALP trails the Greens with only two policies to tackle the issue. Neither the Liberal and National parties have any policies to address the health impacts of climate change.
“The major parties in Australia are missing in action when it comes to protecting the health of the population from threats of climate change,” Dr Liz Hanna, President of the Climate and Health Alliance said.
8 June 2016
Federal election: Time running out for politicians to explain how they will protect people from worsening health impacts of climate change
A surveys from the Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) has been distributed to the Liberal Party, The Nationals, the ALP, The Greens, the Democratic Liberal Party and the Nick Xenophon Party in the lead up to the July 2 election. Among other issues the survey assesses political support for the creation of a national climate and health strategy, greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, phasing out of coal and unconventional gas mining, and a national moratorium of new mines.
The deadline for responses to the survey has been extended to 9th June. The 2016 Climate and Health Scorecard will be released on 20th June 2016..
A copy of the CAHA Climate and Health Policy survey distributed to political parties is available here.
18 May 2016
Climate and Health Alliance (Australia), Australian Health Promotion Association and Doctors Reform Society are among 82 organisations signing a Global Health Statement outlining the huge benefits to both human health and economies from shifting away from coal.
The groups in Australia are part of a global effort involving more than 300,000 doctors, nurses and public health professionals and advocates from 30 countries calling on G7 nations, meeting in Japan this month, to accelerate the transition away from coal to save lives.
Signatories to the Global Health Statement say all G7 countries need to speed their efforts to phase out coal to prevent the worst health effects of climate change. They say momentum is building among many G7 countries, but Australia is moving in the opposite direction, expanding coal and failing to support the transition to renewable energy.
4 May 2016
The Victorian Government’s promise to ramp up health services in the Latrobe Valley is yet more evidence that the mining and burning of coal hurts communities, the Climate and Health Alliance said.
The Victorian state government has announced it will spend $51.2 million in response to the inquiry into the 2014 Hazelwood mine fire, which revealed the event led to deaths and compromised the health of the community and emergency workers.
The Climate and Health Alliance’s Fiona Armstrong says it’s a welcome commitment.
“The Hazelwood Coal Mine Fire remains a sobering reminder of the dangers of coal mining and coal combustion for electricity. There are massive and an unacceptable risks associated with coal mining for communities and public health,” Ms Armstrong said.
28 April 2016
The health of all coal workers should be assessed and monitored as part of a comprehensive response to the Senate inquiry into the re-emergence of black lung disease in Queensland, the Climate and Health Alliance said today.
The Senate Select Committee for Health report into recent cases in Queensland found both industry and government failures, with inadequate regulation of workplace exposures, as well as poor health monitoring procedures for people and workers at risk.
Climate and Health Alliance Executive Director Fiona Armstrong said: “This report reveals a shocking truth about coal mining: that as well as being environmentally destructive, it can also be deadly for workers.”
17 April 2016
The Climate and Health Alliance and Doctors for the Environment, Australia have released a joint report: Investing in Health, on the case for health and medical professionals and health and medical organisations to divest from climate changing fossil fuel investments, and shift their financial resources to clean, healthy, low carbon investments.
Investing in Health is produced by leading advocacy groups the Climate and Health Alliance and Doctors for the Environment Australia, with a foreword by Laureate Professor Nicholas J Talley, President Royal Australasian College of Physicians.
CAHA Vice President Dr Peter Sainsbury said: “Health professionals and their representative organisations have led movements to divest from tobacco, weapons, and gambling industries – it’s now time for health leadership on divesting from fossil fuels.”
A new national assessment from the US federal government reveals serious risks to the health of the US population from climate change. CAHA released a statement in response to the report, highlighting the failure of the Australian government and in particular, the federal health portfolio, to exercise leadership in taking steps to protect the health of Australians from climate change.
The report The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment represents the combined efforts eight federal agencies, and over 100 experts, and provides an assessment on risks to health to US citizens. It forms part of a comprehensive response to the health impacts of climate change, led by the White House.
2015 Media releases
12 November 2015
A report from a global survey to evaluate how nations are responding to the health impacts of climate change shows Australia is well behind other industrialised nations in protecting its citizens from the major health risks associated with global warming.
The report from the World Federation of Public Health Associations (WFPHA) outlines responses from 35 countries in the first-ever global benchmarking survey of national climate and health policy.
The Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) led the project working group, which includes experts from the WFPHA Environment Working Group/University of Illinois Chicago, Public Health Association of Australia, University of NSW, University of Notre Dame, and Health Care Without Harm.
Project coordinator and CAHA Executive Director Fiona Armstrong said the report was an important foundation for strengthening national and global climate and health plans.
“There has been too little attention given in national policy efforts and in the international climate negotiations to the critical issue of how our changing climate is putting the health and wellbeing of people at risk. Despite a massive contribution by researchers to document these risks over several decades, policymakers have been very slow to turn this evidence into policy and program that reduce these threats to the health of citizens.”
The report reveals more than half respondent countries (51%) lack a national plan to adequately protect the health of their citizens from climate change impacts.
Unlike China, New Zealand, Russia, and the USA, Australia has no national strategy on climate change and health.
13 October 2015
Health groups launch joint campaign to position global health as a key issue in the global climate change negotiations
A global health campaign launched today, Our Climate Our Health, insists health must be a priority issue in determining both the nature and scale of climate policies adopted by nations around the world, and reflected in the global climate agreements.
Climate change affects health in many ways, threatening food and water supplies, exacerbating extremes of temperature, and changing the spread of infectious diseases. If it continues at its current pace, the impacts will worsen, with rising sea levels and extreme weather leading to the loss of homes and livelihoods, mass migration, and civil conflict. These effects are unevenly distributed, with the worst of the impacts felt by those who have done the least to cause climate change: low- income countries and poor and marginalised populations globally.
Local campaign partner Climate and Health Alliance (Australia) is calling on the Turnbull government to raise its ambition on climate change, saying Australia should be cutting emissions “as fast as possible”.
CAHA will be calling on health professionals across Australia to join the call for action.
“Climate is already harming health, and in a worsening climate, the health burden will grow. As health professionals, we have a duty to our patients, communities and to future generations to call for strong and effective action on climate change to avoid unacceptable risks to health and wellbeing and community safety,” said Fiona Armstrong, Climate and Health Alliance Executive Director.
24 September 2015
News that Volkswagen and possibly other car manufacturers have deceived regulators about deadly diesel emissions is a timely wake-up call to Australian law-makers.
“Air pollution is an invisible killer that has been shown to cause more deaths in Australia than the annual road-toll, but Australian diesel engine emissions rules are many years behind Europe and the United States” said Dr Liz Hanna, President of the Climate and Health Alliance.
“The health damages from motor-vehicle related pollution in Australia in 2000 was shown to be $2.4 billion, now the figure would be much higher due to big rises in air pollution in that time” Dr Hanna said.
“Micro-particulates in diesel emissions were declared as a Class One Carcinogen by the World Health Organisation in June 2012, putting diesel emissions next to smoking as a cause of Cancer. There is no safe level of exposure to diesel emissions” said Dr Hanna.
24 July 2015
The ALP announcement that the party will take a policy to encourage a greater proportion of renewable energy to the next federal election has been welcomed by health groups.
The proposal for 50% of Australia’s energy supply to come from renewable energy by 2030 was potentially an important health initiative, Dr Liz Hanna, President of the Climate and Health Alliance said.
“Shifting to an energy system powered by wind and solar power will help reduce many of the health risks associated with coal and oil and gas, particularly in relation to largely invisible, but dangerous, air pollution,” Dr Hanna said.
22 June 2015
The Lancet: Landmark new medical research highlights opportunities for better health from strong climate action
The threat to human health from climate change is so great that it could undermine the last fifty years of gains in development and global health, according to a major new Commission, published in The Lancet.
However, the landmark report, to be launched by Nobel Laureate Professor Peter Doherty in Melbourne on Tuesday, provides comprehensive new evidence showing responses to mitigate and adapt to climate change have significant direct and indirect positive health benefits – from reducing air pollution to improving diet – making concerted efforts to tackle climate change one of the greatest opportunities to improve global health this century.
4 May 2015
Australia’s post 2020 CO2 emissions reduction targets should cut emissions ‘as quickly as possible’, the Climate and Health Alliance has said in its submission to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet UNFCCC taskforce.
CAHA has set out a schedule for emissions cuts that would see Australia reach zero emissions in 2040, with a minimum target of:
- 20% reduction of 2000 CO2 levels by 2020;
- 40% by 2025;
- 60% by 2030;
- 80% by 2035; and
- negative net emissions by 2050.
However these should be seen as the “bare minimum”, CAHA Executive Director Fiona Armstrong said.
To achieve swift and effective reductions, CAHA is calling for a ban on all new coal mine licences, and for the immediate closure of seven of the oldest, most polluting coal fired power stations in the country.
10 April 2015
The leadership demonstrated by the Obama administration this week in announcing a series of measures on climate change and health is sorely needed in Australia, CAHA said today.
US President Barack Obama has committed to protecting the health of communities from climate change, with a comprehensive suite of new initiatives announced during US National Public Health Week.
“This long overdue recognition of the effect of climate change on communities by the Obama administration is welcome,” Dr Hanna said, “but highlights the vacant space for policy in this country. We have no national initiatives to protect health from climate change, nor any plans to develop any. There are no consistent efforts by policymakers to build resilience in the health care sector to ensure services continue to be available during extreme weather events, and very little research is being funded to evaluate climate impacts on health in Australia.”
“The people of Australia are being let down by governments failing to act on scientific evidence,” Dr Hanna said. “We urge the federal government to follow Obama’s lead, and stop ignoring these risks – we must act to protect the health of Australian communities, and manage these risks – this includes ensuring health services are there when we need them.”
2 April 2015
The massive increases in particle pollution from coal sources reported in the latest annual National Pollutant Inventory (NPI) report pose a serious threat to the health of communities, the Climate and Health Alliance, said today.
“The latest figures are sobering,” said Dr Liz Hanna, Climate and Health Alliance President, and Australian National University climate and health researcher.
“Our recent report on coal and health in the Hunter Valley shows there is a $600 million per annum health damages bill from coal fired power stations in the region. Air pollution from coal sources affecting the towns of Singleton and Muswellbrook causes health damages worth $65.3 million each year. The national costs are far higher.
“These costs are already staggering, and yet the new NPI figures reveal pollution is getting much worse.”
“It is concerning that we have yet another wind farm inquiry underway, when an industry that is causing demonstrable harm to health is not being investigated. We should have a national Inquiry into the health risks from coal in Australia.”
23 February 2015
The suggestion by the NSW Minerals Council today that there is no evidence of harm from coal pollution is ludicrous, the Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) said today.
“In fact there is a huge body of evidence in the peer reviewed scientific literature that shows the toll from coal on a broad range of negative health impacts, including from air pollution associated with coal dust and coal combustion and blasting,” said Fiona Armstrong, author of the Coal and Health in the Hunter report released by CAHA today.
23 February 2015
A comprehensive report, released today by a coalition of 28 key health organisations, highlights the serious threats to human health from the rapid expansion of the Hunter coal industry, calculates the burden of this health damage to the economy and, significantly, calls for a ban on new coal projects in the region and an orderly transition away from coal.
High profile figures including former Australians of the Year Professor Fiona Stanley and Professor Tim Flannery and former NASA scientist James Hansen, and 23 other academics and public health experts, have signed an open letter to the NSW Premier demanding the phasing out of coal production in the Hunter.
President of the Climate and Health Alliance, ANU academic Dr Liz Hanna, speaking outside NSW Parliament said, “Coal is responsible for harming the health of communities in the Hunter, and we know when our exported coal is burnt overseas, it contributes to illnesses and deaths. Other governments are moving to protect their health and their air quality. The Baird and Abbott governments have no authority to ignore Australian health risks by licensing new coal in NSW and pledging ongoing support for the coal industry.”
2014 Media Releases
2013 Media Releases
2012 Media Releases
2011 Media Releases
2010 Media Releases