Climate and Health Alliance News September 2020

Welcome to the September Climate and Health News! 

This edition, we are focusing on COVID-19 recovery, climate change and health.

We would like to officially welcome recently joined CAHA members - Dietitians AustraliaNSW Nurses and Midwives' Association and Australian, New Zealand and Asian Creative Arts Therapies Association.

Please enjoy this edition of the newsletter. And make sure you follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay in the loop! 

Not yet a member or monthly donor? Find out about becoming a CAHA member here or donate to support our work here!

Quick Links:

Rewrite the Future: Developing Narrative Scenarios for Possible Alternative Futures in 2030 

We’ve kicked off our campaign to ensure climate and health are at the centre of governments’ post-COVID policies and plans. At three virtual roundtable events, over 100 thought leaders from across health and other sectors gathered to imagine what 2030 may look like. 

We had a wealth of experience in the “room”, including Damon Gameau (2040 director), Dr Sandro Demaio (CEO of VicHealth), Dr Angie Bone (Victoria’s deputy Chief Health Officer), Ian Dunlop (former head of the Australian Coal Association) and representatives from across the sector, leading universities, and more. Drawing on the diverse perspectives and expertise present, participants co-designed four possible 2030 scenarios, and began mapping out the pathway to achieving the preferred future. We will soon begin working with our member organisations to advocate for the policy agenda to elected representatives.

 

COVID-19 recovery and Climate

Climate-led recovery: will Australia be left behind?

The Beyond COVID-19: Toward healthy people, a healthy planet, justice, and equity statement highlights the essential role of health sector leadership across society. Besides the health sector, the agriculture sector has also shown how net-zero emissions could be achieved. Will the federal government listen to the farming or the health sector? Dr Kate Dooley from the University of Melbourne writes that while the European Union is moving ahead with a “bold step in climate policy”, Australia has gone from environmental leader to laggard. Read more here

How Australia can ditch coal without ditching jobs 

Successive governments have told us that decommissioning coal-fired power would hurt the economy and cause a wave of unemployment - but that's not true. There are enormous opportunities to create jobs and wealth in renewable energy, including exporting it to countries without the sun and space we enjoy here. Explained in under 4 minutes, watch how Australia can ditch coal here.

With COVID-19 comes the perfect opportunity to shift Australia's economy away from fossil fuels

The world’s economy has been struck by the pandemic, disrupting lives and businesses. However, the pandemic has given governments around the world an opportunity to shift their economies away from fossil fuels. Even if scientists develop a vaccine for COVID-19, and the world can open up again, the climate crisis will still be here. 

Guardian Australia’s ongoing series on the Green Recovery showcases plans to construct another large wind, solar and storage project in South Australia, highlighting the enormous possibilities for shifting from a fossil fuel-based economy. All we need is a government willing to grasp the opportunity. Read more here.

 

News

Fiona in Canberra Times: Changes to environment laws and clean energy funding make the Coalition's plan clear

Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley has introduced a bill to amend the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. These changes seek to fast-track approvals for major fossil fuel projects, and appear to be an attempt to enable rapid expansion of polluting gas projects, rather than protection of our environment and wildlife. The lack of legal protection for our ecosystems put our health at risk. For more, read this article by our Executive Director, Fiona Armstrong.

Australian scientists say logging, mining and climate advice is being suppressed 

New research by Ecological Society of Australia suggests that more than half of Australian scientists working for Australian federal and state governments say they are prevented from speaking openly about their work and their advice is being suppressed by government and industry when it comes to the impact of logging, mining, land-clearing and the climate crisis. 

The paper includes quotes from respondents who said they had been threatened with losing their job if they spoke up after their advice was ignored, were intimidated by senior public servants on the phone and social media, and had quit their position due to stress and loss of motivation. Read more here.

Climate and health in NT Election

In the lead up to the NT Election, CAHA provided several training sessions for NT-based health professionals in advocacy and campaigning. With our support, the group collaborated to prepare the NT Election Briefing: Heat, Climate Change, Health and the Need for Urgent Action, which includes a series of comprehensive policy recommendations. The Briefing was signed by 10 NT health and community groups, including Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory, NT Council of Social Services, and Jesuit Social Services. 

We achieved media coverage in the NT News, organised lobbying meetings between CAHA,  NT-based health professionals and the NT Health Minister, and secured commitments on climate and health policy. 

Class action to stop planned coal mine extension by Australian teenagers

A class action launched on behalf of young people everywhere seeks an injunction to stop the Australian Government approving an extension to Whitehaven's Vickery coal mine, arguing it will harm young people by exacerbating climate change. "We're trying to get the Federal Environment Minister to prevent the Vickery coal mine going ahead because we believe she has a duty of care for young Australians and young people all over the world," said Ms Raj-Seppings, one of the representative plaintiffs. Watch the interview on ABC Drum here and read more about the class action here.

Landmark Australian children's human rights-based lawsuit against Waratah Coal mine proceeds 

'Youth Verdict', a group of young Queenslanders being represented by the Environmental Defenders Office, lodged an objection to Clive Palmer’s Waratah coal mine in the Queensland Land Court, arguing it infringes on a number of their rights under the state Human Rights Act.

"We're facing a future that is increasingly uncertain, and that impacts our right to have a safe future," said Mel McAuliffe, one of the founders of Youth Verdict. Her Honour President Kingham rejected Waratah Coal’s application to strike out these objections, clearing the way for the Queensland Land Court to consider objections to the human rights impacts of the proposed Galilee Coal Project. Read more here.

Government ignores health risk of climate change 

The federal government has failed to develop a national strategy to reduce the health risks of climate change, despite repeated calls for such a plan. Our Executive Director Fiona Armstrong said that the federal Health Department has “no idea what the risks are of climate change to their infrastructure, to their workforce, to their supply chains” since no climate risk assessment has been done at a national level. "The lack of action is disgracefully negligent when it comes to protecting the health of the community,” Fiona said. Read more here.

ACT government to build first all-electric hospital, powered by renewables  

The ACT government has announced that a new $500 million hospital being built in Canberra’s south will be all-electric, ruling out the use of gas for heating and cooling equipment, allowing the hospital to become one of the first to be entirely powered by renewable energy. ACT Climate Change and Sustainability Minister Shane Rattenbury says the project would be an ideal example of how climate change considerations can be factored into all government infrastructure decisions.

At the Minister's press conference, Dr Arnagretta Hunter of CAHA welcomed the announcement, highlighting that many health professionals recognise the impacts climate change has on health, and the health sector must address its own contribution to global heating. Read more here.

Burning bush, melting Arctic, a deadly virus: nobody said the end times would be boring

"For one brief shining moment it seemed humanity’s inability to imagine much beyond our lived experience was irrelevant. Covid was coming for us all." Read this beautifully written essay about 2020 written by John Birmingham that will be part of the anthology Fire, Flood and Plague, edited by Sophie Cunningham and published by Penguin Random House in December.

Australian climate and health expert Dr Nick Watts appointed as the new NHS Chief Sustainability Officer

Dr Nick Watts has been appointed as the new NHS Chief Sustainability Officer. Nick will be leading the climate change and sustainability work of the NHS, delivering the Greener NHS programme and a net zero health service. Currently Executive Director of The Lancet Countdown and Chair of the NHS England Net Zero Taskforce, Nick is also a practising doctor, licensed in the UK and Australia. 

Nick brings a wealth of experience to the role having overseen the work of the Lancet Countdown since its inception, and acted as the founding director of the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change, and the Global Climate and Health Alliance. Congratulations Nick and NHS!

South Australia’s biggest solar farm finally moves to full production 

The biggest solar farm in South Australia, and what would have been the biggest solar complex in Australia had it been completed earlier, is finally moving towards full production – nearly two years after its original plans. Joint owner Enel Green Power said: “Bungala 2 Solar Farm is currently in the final stages of grid compliance testing. We are working with relevant stakeholders and agencies to complete the commissioning process.” Read more here.

Four District Health Boards recognised as Toitu's Top 10 carbon reducers of 2020

Four District Health Boards in New Zealand (all members of the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals network) have been recognised in Toitu's top 10 carbon reducers of 2020, including GGHH members Auckland District Health Board, Counties Manukau District Health Board and Hawke's Bay District Health Board. Toitu helps companies measure, manage and mitigate their carbon emissions.

Advocacy

Sign the petition: Senate, protect environment to protect our health 

The federal government is trying to weaken our environment laws, which protect the very foundations for our health and wellbeing – access to clean air, soil and water. For more information, read Fiona’s opinion piece in The Canberra Times: Changes to environment laws and clean energy funding make the Coalition's plan clear. Read our media release here, sign the petition to all Senators here.

Join our Facebook group 

Calling all health and medical professionals! Do you want to connect with like-minded professionals, students and enthusiasts, and chat about all things climate and health? Join our Facebook group here.

Join Friends of CAHA

Did you know that individuals, as well as organisations, can join CAHA? You can support the work of the Climate and Health Alliance by joining Friends of CAHA and help build a powerful health sector movement for climate action and sustainable healthcare. By joining Friends of CAHA you will have the opportunity to connect with others who share your interest and concerns, and contribute to inform our work and ensure it reflects the everyday experiences of people in the community, or on the healthcare frontline. Read more information about Friends of CAHA here and sign up here.

Sign the petition: #HealthyEnvironment4All

CAHA has joined more than 850 civil society organizations, indigenous peoples’ groups, social movements and local communities are calling on the United Nations Human Rights Council to recognize the universal human right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. This recognition will make clear that human rights must be to be guaranteed and protected in the face of environmental challenges. Show your support here.

Apply now for Health Care Climate Champion Awards 2020  

If your health institution is undertaking work to cut emissions or build climate resilience, applying for Health Care Climate Champion Awards is your opportunity to be internationally recognised for your efforts. To apply: 1) Sign the Healthcare Climate Pledge. You will be entered in the Healthcare Climate Challenge and automatically become a Global Green and Healthy Hospitals member (which is free!) 2) Enter details on our online platform about your efforts to mitigate, adapt to or advocate for action on climate change. Read more about the awards here.

Climate change is a health emergency

We're calling on our elected representatives to act on climate to protect our health. Please join us by signing the petitionClick here to read more about our campaign.

If your organisation would like to learn more about what making a climate health emergency declaration means, please get in touch with our team here.

Events

Global Smart Energy Summit 2020 

29 September - 30 September 2020

The Global Smart Energy Summit is a two-day program that brings together leaders in business, civil society, policy makers and academia to explore ways for tackling the economic crisis and the climate crisis at the same time. Hear from more than twenty keynote speakers including Mark Carney (UN Climate Envoy and Finance Adviser, COP26), Malcolm Turnbull (29th Prime Minister of Australia) and Bill McKibben (Founder of 350.org).

The event is free to attend. View the program here and register here.

Boiling Point Series by COP26 Coalition

17 September - 22 October 2020

The COP26 Coalition is running an online speaker series over the next few weeks as a way for groups in the UK and further afield to embark on a sort of crash course about all things UNFCCC. The Boiling Point is a series of six one-hour long webinars where participants will have a chance to learn the basics of international climate change politics ahead of COP26.

Expert speakers will share their knowledge of the history and process of the talks as well as the major issues and main players. Participants will learn about the real "rules of the game" and have a chance to ask questions big and small of activists, policy analysts and journalists with years of experience working behind the scenes of major summits. Series schedule and more information here.

Environmental Health Webinar Series: Linking climate change to health outcomes

1 September - 24 November 2020

The Environmental Health Webinar Series is presented by WA Primary Health Alliance, RACGP, Doctors for the Environment Australia and HealthPathways WA. There are seven sessions being held through to November, covering emergency medicine and climate change, maternal and women's health, eco-anxiety, First Nations Peoples and ecological change, and reducing impact in general practice. Find the webinar series schedule here.

Sustainable Development Goals, Climate Change and Cities Symposium

30 September - 2 October 2020

The University of Melbourne's Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning (ABP) and the Connected Cities Lab is partnering with the Business Council for Sustainable Development Australia and the Banksia Foundation, to host the inaugural virtual ABP Symposium, focusing on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This symposium will feature interactive workshop sessions, breakout rooms, keynotes and opportunities for delegates to connect across time zones. The symposium will also showcase the role that cities and their urban partners play in implementing the SDGs. Find more information here and register here.

Sustainable Healthcare and Climate Health Aotearoa Webinar Series 

Tuesdays (fortnightly), June - October 2020 

This webinar series, focused on sustainable healthcare and climate health, is presented by the University of Otago, Sustainable Health Sector National Network, New Zealand Climate and Health Council and Global Green and Healthy Hospitals. Each webinar will air fortnightly at 4pm NZST (or 2pm AEST) on Tuesdays. Find the webinar series programme here and register here.

Bushfire smoke and health: Symposium

8-9 October 2020 - Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, Glebe, NSW

The Centre for Air Pollution, Energy and Health Research (CAR) are hosting a two-day symposium to discuss evidence and policy around the effects of smoke from bushfires and planned burns. This event will bring together stakeholders, scientists, managers and policy makers to discuss the complexities, science, values and trade-offs in risk management, and the ways forward for land, fire and smoke management in Australia. Day 1 will involve a research workshop. An interactive policy forum will be held on Day 2. CAR are now accepting abstracts for the program. Register here. 

World One Health Congress

30 October - 3 November 2020 

The 6th World Health Congress 2020 will be held virtually. This one-week event will cover topics including One Health Science, antimicrobial resistance, science-policy interface, COVID-19, global health security and vaccinations. There will be special partner sessions and keynote lectures by various health experts. More info here.

Coda 2021

April 19-23 2021 - Melbourne

Coda 2020 has been postponed until April 19-23, 2021. CODA is a global health community aiming to make a real and lasting difference to world health and patient experiences. This event focuses on interactive sessions to empower attendees to take action to tackle climate change and make healthcare more sustainable. Find out more here.

In Case You Missed It...

Environmental Health Webinar Series: Respiratory health in a changing climate

Rising temperatures, increasing CO2 levels and extreme nature events – how do these affect our respiratory health? Presented by Dr Peter Franklin, Senior Research Fellow in the School of Population Health and Director of the Occupational Respiratory Epidemiology research group, this session discussed air pollution from the bushfires earlier this year and how we can prepare respiratory patients in WA for this summer’s fire season. Watch the webinar here.

Support Croakey to continue their coverage of climate and health

Croakey Health Media provides independent, in-depth coverage of health issues, including their excellent coverage of all things climate change and health. Croakey is asking for support so they can provide regular, in-depth coverage of the health impacts of climate change, taking a local, national and global approach. 

Already, their regular donors have enabled Croakey to publish Carbon footprints, pathology, hospital food, air pollution and other news in sustainable healthcare and Dear Australia, elegy for a summer of loss. If you would like to become a regular donor and support independent, health-focused journalism, please support Croakey through their Patreon account.

Research and Reports

Unprecedented health costs of smoke from 2019–20 Australian megafires

A recent paper published in Nature Sustainability reported that the health costs of the smoke from 2019-2020 Australian megafires was a staggering $1.95 billion. The smoke led to 429 deaths, and sent 4,753 acutely ill people to hospital with asthma, cardiovascular and respiratory conditions. These figures do not include the costs of ambulance callouts, GP visits, medication, lost productivity, or mental health burdens associated with the smoke. These costs are more than nine times the median annual costs for the previous 19 years (of AU$211 million). Unfortunately, we expect to see dramatic increases in these costs as we will experience more frequent and more intense bushfires with a hotter climate. Read the full paper here.

United in Science Report: Climate Change has not stopped for COVID-19

According to a new multi-agency report from leading science organisations, United in Science 2020, climate change has not stopped for COVID-19. Greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere are at record levels and continue to increase. The world is set to see its warmest five years on record – in a trend which is likely to continue - and is not on track to meet agreed targets to keep global temperature increase below 2 °C or, let alone 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. The report highlights the increasing and irreversible impacts of climate change, which affects glaciers, oceans, nature, economies and human living conditions and is often felt through water-related hazards like drought or flooding. It also documents how COVID-19 has impeded our ability to monitor these changes through the global observing system. Read the report here.

Victorian municipal public health and wellbeing planning for climate change

'Tackling climate change and its impacts on health through municipal public health and wellbeing planning: Guidance for (Victorian) local government' is now available online. The guidance and summary document has been developed to assist councils in meeting their legislative obligations. It highlights opportunities for councils to protect and improve the health and wellbeing of their communities through climate change action and builds on the significant work that councils are already delivering across Victoria. Download it here.

COVID-19 Impact Survey 

CAHA conducted a survey from April until June about the impacts of the pandemic on our health sector members, and the implications it may have for climate advocacy. The survey found that the top concerns of respondents were: preventing further spread of COVID-19, responding to the secondary effects of COVID-19, health service preparedness and resilience, and committing to climate action. Respondents called for strong leadership and innovative thinking during strategic planning. They also want to see that data from this pandemic considered judiciously; and that we learn from our successes and shortcomings during this response. Read the full report here.

Submission to Federal Budget: Recommendations for a health-led post-COVID-19 economic recovery

COVID-19 has highlighted the interconnectedness of human and environmental health. Building on our Framework for a National Strategy on Climate, Health and Wellbeing for Australia, which outline necessary reforms in key areas to create a healthy, resilient society, CAHA has put forward recommendations for a health-led post COVID-19 economic recovery by adding an additional policy area relating to thriving ecosystems. CAHA calls on the government to restore and safeguard Australia’s ecosystems, recognising that intact ecosystems are the
fundamental base of human health and livelihoods. Read more here.

Resources

Listen to BaU Podcast: Episode 7 on Climate Health

CAHA ED Fiona Armstrong features in a recent interview with the Business as UnUsual (BaU) podcast. BaU speaks to the people behind the movements, organisations and ideas that are shifting the way we think, interact and transact. Listen to Fiona's interview on her journey climate and health advocacy here.

Free online course on IUCN Red List of Ecosystems 

Available Now - virtual

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Ecosystems is the global standard for ecosystem risk assessment, used by governments, NGOs, scientists and practitioners to sustain biodiversity worldwide. If you're interested in understanding the Red List of Ecosystems processes and assessments, join this free course by Deakin University, run by Emily Nicholson, co-leader of the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems.

 

Join

This newsletter is brought to you by the team here at the Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA).

Did you know individuals, as well as organisations, can support CAHA? If you like what we do and would like to support our work, become a member of the Climate and Health Alliance. You will be joining a powerful health sector movement for climate action and sustainable healthcare. 

Please contact us at office@caha.org.au if you have any upcoming events or information to include in our next newsletter.

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