Welcome to the December Climate and Health News. This bumper edition is packed full of news, events and information, keeping you up to date with what’s happening in the world of climate and health and giving you resources to take action, including joining CAHA!
Please contact the Climate and Health Alliance if you have any upcoming events, or other information to include in our newsletter.
All of us at the Climate and Health Alliance wish you a safe and happy holiday season, and a wonderful new year! We look forward to working with our members and supporters to progress further action on climate change and health in 2019.
The release of the 2018 Lancet Countdown report on 29th November 2018 was a big global news story. The report tracks 41 indicators across five domains in health and climate change, including political engagement, finance, adaptation, health co-benefits and current progress and is the result of 12 months of hard work from over 100 academics from 27 academic institutions and agencies, across every continent. It highlights the importance of widespread public understanding of the impacts of climate change on health, as well as the urgency for action to be taken.
A key message for policymakers (and health advocates informing them) is this: "A lack of progress in reducing emissions and building adaptive capacity threatens both human lives and the viability of the national health systems they depend on, with the potential to disrupt core public health infrastructure and overwhelm health services."
Alongside the Lancet report, the Medical Journal of Australia released an assessment of the progress on climate change and health within the Australian context, revealing an alarming lack of political action which will threaten lives. Read more.
Watch co-author of MJA Lancet Countdown 2018 Professor Tony Capon talking to ABC News 24 about the implications of the report for Australia here.
This report, released at COP24, is a contribution from the global public health community to support the negotiations of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Commissioned by COP23 President Bainamarama, the report is based on contributions from over 80 health professionals, academic experts, representatives of civil society and international agencies who have worked on climate change and health for over three decades.
It provides global knowledge on the interconnection between climate change and health; an overview of the initiatives and tools with which the national, regional and global public health community is supporting and scaling up actions to implement the Paris Agreement for a healthier, more sustainable society; and recommendations for UNFCCC negotiators and policy-makers on maximizing the health benefits of tackling climate change and avoiding the worst health impacts of this global challenge.
This Briefing provides guidance from health advocates for incorporating health into UNFCCC programs and initiatives , including the Paris Agreement. It highlights the risks to health, the dangers of delay, the opportunities for co-benefits through climate action, and the need to mobilise the health community.
The brief also points to the importance of national policy frameworks, such as the Framework for a National Strategy on Climate, Health and Wellbeing for Australia, to assist nations in addressing their obligations to health under the Paris Agreement.
Doctors taking a stance on climate action: "be brave enough to challenge yourself and your organisations"
An open letter from doctors in the British Medical Journal has urged the healthcare community to use their collective voice for climate action.
"We want climate change and biodiversity loss to be amongst the main priorities for all healthcare professionals. Why? Because these are the most important factors that will influence the health and wellbeing of our population and we simply cannot afford to wait any longer. Remember there is no economy, no health and, in fact, there is nothing on a dead planet," say Dr James Szymankiewicz, Dr Niall Macleod and Dr Simon Jones.
Canadian doctors have also taken a stance, with more than 200 health leaders written an open letterr to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau regarding the new Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
As California recovers from the trauma of increasingly frequent and destructive forest fires, which are predicted to worsen as global temperatures rise it is concerning that governments still resist calls to take urgent action on climate change. As the past several fire seasons in California make clear, hot drought sets up wildfire risk like nothing else. In this context, experts are calling on US citizens to demand climate action if further disasters are to be averted. Experts at Stanford University are raising both questions and answers about wildfires, climate change and health.
Climate change is a reality emergency services and first responders in Australia are dealing with, and fire is not the only problem, with warming oceans resulting in heavier rain and the potential for increased flooding.
New South Wales Rural Fire Service planning and predictive services manager Simon Heemstra is on the frontline of health and climate change in the emergency services sector: "There's a whole public health issue that also goes with multiple disasters you might need to be responding to". Read more.
As emergency service workers battle catastrophic fires in Queensland and cyclonic conditions in New South Wales, a new study has confirmed the mental health burden, and high rates of psychological distress, borne by the nation's first responders.
The first World Health Organization (WHO) Global Conference on Air Pollution was held in Geneva from 30 October - 1 November 2018, in collaboration with UN Environment and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Globally, air pollution is estimated to cause 7 million deaths per year, including more than half of pneumonia deaths in children under five years. Effective interventions are feasible, effective and compatible with economic growth, the Conference heard. A goal to reduce air pollution by two-thirds by 2030 has been set.
The release of a report on impact of air pollution on children revealed more than 90% of the world's children breathe toxic air every day. WHO estimates that in 2016, 600,000 children died from acute lower respiratory infections caused by polluted air.
The UK’s Royal College of General Practitioners (GPs) has pledged to stop investing in fossil fuels. The group said it has long-recognised the impact climate change has on the environment and the adverse effects it can have on patients’ health. It is a member of the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change, which aims to empower health organisations to advocate for better responses to climate change and engage decision makers to strengthen policies that protect public health.
Climate and Health Champions Workshop
CAHA’s new Climate Health Champions graduated with flying colours from their one-day workshop in Brisbane in November. The workshop was the result of a collaboration between the Climate and Health Alliance and the Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union (QNMU) to find, train and organise health sector professionals on climate-health issues. Eighteen people participated in the workshop which included presentations from QNMU, the Climate Media Centre, and the Our Climate Our Health campaign.
The Climate Health Champions will join a host of former workshop attendees, volunteers and supporters participating in the Our Climate, Our Health campaign, putting pressure on parliamentarians to implement a national strategy on climate, health and wellbeing.
CAHA Executive Director Fiona Armstrong said “Health professionals are among of the most trusted people in the community. It is fantastic that a growing number are engaging with the reality of climate change as a health issue, and seeking information and taking action.”
“2019 will be a crucial year for our agenda. As the facilitator of the Our Climate, Our Health campaign, CAHA welcomes the 2018 Climate-Health Champions aboard as we seek to ensure all political parties take climate and health seriously.”
If you are interested in becoming a Climate and Health Champion, CAHA will be holding workshops in other states in 2019. You can also join the Our Climate, Our Health Campaign via the website.
Email Our Climate, Our Health Campaigns to register your interest. If you think you know people in your network who might be interested in this opportunity, please share this email and encourage them to get in touch.
Almost two dozen leading Australian health experts have blasted the Morrison government's "contemptuous dismissal" of the latest major climate report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, calling for a rapid phasing out of coal. It was also an opportunity to call on the government for action "to protect the health of current and future generations nationally and globally."
Read their statement published in The Lancet here.
Doctors for the Environment have launched a campaign 'No Time for Games' urging health professionals and the wider community to pledge their support for action to address the impacts of climate change on the health of children and future generations. The pledge, which includes key actions such as proactive climate mitigation from all levels of government, greening health care systems, and divesting from fossil fuels, will be presented to the Australian Prime Minister prior to the 2019 Federal Election.
Are you a social movement leader, or know someone who is? Plan to Win is inviting six leaders to take part in group and one-to-one coaching to improve the efficacy of their work, deepen critical thinking, improve creativity and problem solving, and build resilience and connection. The program commences in January with a oen day training, followed by monthly evening sessions and peer coaching. Training is presented by skilled activist trainer and coach Holly Hammond.
The International Council of Nurses (ICN) has released a new position statement, announced by Annette Kennedy, ICN President at the ICN Regional Conference in Abu Dhabi, "Nurses, climate change and health", calling for governments, health system leaders, national nursing associations and nurse leaders to take immediate action to mitigate climate change and to support people and communities around the world to adapt to its impacts.
OraTaiao, New Zealand's climate and health council, welcomes the government’s amendment bill to stop offering new oil permits. The council notes that the bill will help to protect the health and well-being of New Zealanders, improve the economy and help New Zealand to meet its Paris agreement obligations.
24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change began on December 3rd, and will continue until the 14th. Read more
The key themes of the conference are:
- Technology - development of climate-friendly modern solutions, such as electromobility;
- Man - solidarity and just transition of industrial regions;
- Nature – supporting achieving climate neutrality by absorbing CO2 by forests and land, or by water management.
CAHA is delighted to have four CAHA delegates attending COP24: Professor Hilary Bambrick, Professor Melissa Sweet, Professor Ying Zhang, and Rashmi Venkatraman.
Read Associate Professor Linda Selvey's insights on the tensions at play at the global climate talks in Poland here.
Alongside the COP24, the World Health Organization, together with the Global Climate and Health Alliance, the European Committee of the Regions, and the Pro Silesia Association, will host a half-day Global Climate and Health Summit on climate change and health on December 8th. This will serve as a key anchoring event for advancing health-focused action, engagement and collaboration to address climate change. Read more
CAHA is pleased to promote the International Union for Health Promotion and Education (IUHPE) World Health Promotion Conference in Rotorua, New Zealand, in April 2019.
The theme for the 2019 event is WAIORA: Promoting Planetary Health and Sustainable Development for All.
The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) has released a report “The Dirty Truth”, mapping Australia’s pollution by postcode. This report, based on industry-reported emissions data in National Pollutant Inventory, reveals that air pollution in Australia is “both a class and climate issue,” with 90% of polluting facilities in low to middle income suburbs.
Ten years have passed since the landmark report published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine on climate change and public health. Has the health sector done enough?
The latest issue of Australian journal Public Health Research & Practice takes an in-depth look at the responses to climate change and health in the Australian context. It has articles on a number of different areas including climate change and allergy, extreme weather events and healthcare infrastructure. For more information about the issue, see the media release here.
CAHA's international partner, Health Care Without Harm, has released a new report on plastics in healthcare. Medical waste is regularly reported washed up on beaches, and if not properly disposed of, plastics from healthcare will contaminate the environment for decades or even centuries. This report estimates of the 8,300 million metric tonnes (Mt) of plastics produced to date, 6,300 Mt have become waste and almost 5,000 Mt have been accumulated in the environment or landfills.
In light of the increasing impacts of extreme weather events, health professionals increasingly understand the need to prepare health services and facilities for future climate emergencies. A recent series of webinars cover the impacts of climate driven, extreme weather events on emergency departments and health systems, along with opportunities for resilience, preparedness and emergency medicine leadership. Access slides and resources here.
A recent peer reviewed article provides further insight on how healthcare facilities can become more climate resilient.
Environmental Justice Australia has commissioned The Health Burden of fine particle pollution from electricity generation in NSW by leading epidemiologist, Dr Ben Ewald to investigate the serious health damages from NSW’s five coal-fired power stations. The findings revealed that the five coal-fired power stations in NSW cause 279 premature deaths, 233 low birthweight babies, and 361 new cases of type 2 diabetes each year.
The International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA) has developed a toolkit for events to decrease their impact on the environment. This document presents recommendations to limit the climate impact of meetings in the following
key areas: Accommodation and Venue, Transportation, Food and Beverage, Material use and Merchandise.
1 Million Women is a movement of women fighting the climate crisis through lifestyle changes. They will be releasing an app to help reduce individual carbon footprint by suggesting simple actions that can be taken everyday.
"Our app will focus on cutting carbon pollution in key areas of daily living such as; home energy savings and clean energy options, minimising food waste, reducing overconsumption, investing and divesting (your money) wisely, sustainable fashion, low-impact travel, and much more."
This newsletter is brought to you by the Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA). Did you know individuals, as well as organisations, can join CAHA? If you like what we do, and would like to support our work, please join and become a member of the Climate and Health Alliance. You will be joining a dynamic effort to ensure people's health and well-being is central to national and global efforts to respond to climate change. To join CAHA, follow this link!
Looking for holiday reading? CAHA's recent reports on the consultation regarding a National Strategy on Climate, Health and Well-being for Australia and the Health and Wellbeing Climate Adaption Plan (H-CAP) for Queensland can be accessed online now.