Climate and Health News July 2021

Welcome to the July Climate and Health News!

First up, we would like to formally welcome our new members:

Enjoy this edition of the newsletter. If you have climate and health news to share, please write to us. You can stay in the loop between newsletters by following us on Facebook and Twitter.

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News

Launching our climate communications guide for health professionals

Our RUN communications guideIn May, we launched our new guide for health professionals, Real, Urgent and Now: Communicating the Health Impacts of Climate Change.

Health professionals know that effective communication is one of the most powerful tools they can use to protect public health. There, effective communication is crucial to emphasise climate change as biggest health threat – and health opportunity – of the century. 

This guide is designed to support health professionals to speak with confidence about climate change and its health impacts, take a leadership role in encouraging health services to be as environmentally sustainable as possible, and promote actions that will improve our climate and health, and more.

Read the guide here. You can share to your networks on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Doctors, healthcare workers sound alarm over health risks of climate change

In early June, a group of doctors and frontline health workers marched to the WHO Headquarter in Geneva to urge global leaders to declare climate change a public health emergency. They demanded that health authorities and governments avert a global health crisis, through preventative healthcare, more equitable access to medical care, reducing the carbon impact of healthcare, and stricter industry control to ensure clean water and air. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus welcomed the protesters, and said "the pandemic will end, there is no vaccine for climate change."

Read more here.

AAMRI Position Statement on climate change and its impact on human health

On June 1, the Australian Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes released their policy position on climate change and its effect on human health. Their policy priorities include:

  • providing advice to medical research institutes to reduce carbon emissions;
  • encouraging institutes to adopt environmental, social and governance principles when making financial investment decisions;
  • encouraging increased research and investment in health and medicine that directly respond to the potential impacts of climate change;
  • ensuring climate change is seen as a key, cross-cutting priority across its policy and advocacy work.

Read their policy position here.

AFMW Position Statement on climate change and its impact on human health

On June 23, the Australian Federation of Medical Women (one of our newest member organisations) released a statement on climate change and its disproportionate effect on women's health.

AFMW is "strongly urging the government, institutions and individuals to introduce policies to reduce carbon emissions and limit environmental degradation for the benefit of women, children and the whole population."

Read their statement here.

Depression, risk of suicide worsening with severe heatwaves and floods 

Imperial College London published a report stating that policymakers are yet to grasp the scale of climate change impacts on mental health, and the subsequent economic impacts. Author lead, Dr Emma Lawrance said the mental health outcomes of climate change are "a big problem that is going to affect more and more people into the future, and in particular, exacerbate inequality. It is very likely to be a really big unaccounted cost." Dr Lawrance said the costs to mental health and the benefits of climate action must become part of the mainstream work on tackling the climate crisis.

The report concludes that "the climate crisis affects the mental wellbeing of hundreds of millions of people around the world. These impacts are currently 'hidden costs', unaccounted for in policy and planning."

Read the report here, and see more analysis in The Swaddle and The Guardian.

Climate change causes over a third of heat-related deaths

Climate change is responsible for thousands of heat-related deaths in recent decades, just a fraction of future deaths expected even if we adopt ambitious emissions-cutting efforts. An international study published 31 May found that 37% of heat-related mortality could be attributed to climate change. For Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, that translated into almost 3000 extra deaths.

Battery to power NSW hospitals and more

Advocacy

Have you got 3 minutes for a survey?

Here we are again. A federal election looming, as early as September to as late as next May. We need to be ready, so we’re thinking through how we can leverage this moment to push for better climate and health outcomes.

We’d love your input to our election plan. Can you take this 3-minute survey to share your ideas for climate health action at the next election?

An Open Letter to Australia's CEOs 

Better Futures Australia has published an open letter to Australia's CEOs, inviting their companies to advocate for ambitious national climate policy. The open letter asks CEOs to publicly commit to advocating for ambitious action to tackle climate change and work towards Australia's net zero future.

Business leadership is vital to secure meaningful climate policies, especially ahead of COP26. If you're in a position to encourage your organisation to sign onto the Better Futures Australia Declaration, we strongly encourage you to! You can sign the declaration here.

Fresh Science 2021 application now open

Are you an early-career researcher with a peer-reviewed discovery or results and want some publicity? Or do you know someone like this? Fresh Science is a national competition that helps early-career researchers find their voice, get some media training and learn how to tell their research story in a compelling way – be it to a journalist, politician or philanthropist. Practice being interview by journalists and be a part of the media landscape.

Apply now – we'd love to hear of any climate-health researchers in this program.

Declaring a Climate Emergency: a guide for primary care 

Is your organisation interested in declaring a climate emergency? SEE Sustainability has developed a guide, aimed at practices and primary health networks, to help you understand what declaring a climate emergency means, how to take action and an example pledge.

Find the guide here. If you want more guidance on declaring a climate emergency, please email us at [email protected] 

Free online course: Climate change negotiations and health 

UN Climate Change:e-Learn have launched a free online course on international climate change negotiations and human health. The course features key information on climate change and its impacts on human health, provides an overview of the climate change negotiations so far, and considers entry points to address health issues and priorities within climate change negotiations and policies. It could be useful ahead of COP26 in November.

Check out the course here.

Reimagining healthcare in Australia: the journey from telehealth to 21st century design

The Consumers Health Forum of Australia is currently conducting a national research project called Reimagining healthcare in Australia: the journey from telehealth to 21st century design, with the Digital Health CRCDeloitte Australia and Curtin University. The project aims to better understand consumer expectations of virtual healthcare and includes several national consumer insights surveys focusing on consumer preferences and expectations in healthcare. The results will shape future service development and research.

Read more about the project here and complete or distribute the survey here.

Landmark climate change decision: Sharma decision has significant implications for developments and activities with climate change impacts 

On May 27, a landmark decision for climate change litigation was handed down by Justice Bromberg in the Federal Court, after eight Australian children filed an application with the Court in relation to Vickery Coal’s intended expansion of its coal mine in New South Wales. Justice Bromberg accepted that there was a real, significant and foreseeable risk of harm for Australian children arising from a continued increase in global surface temperatures, to which the Vickery Project would contribute if it proceeded, and recognised the existence of a duty of care owed by the Australian Minister for the Environment to the children. 

Assuming that the decision stands, Sharma has significant implications for the development of future projects which have the potential to create climate change impacts.

Read here for more information about the decision and its implications.

 

Events

AMSA Global Health Conference 2021 

5-9 August 2021, Perth

AMSA's national Global Health Conference's theme for 2021 is ;'eeds for Change', which reinforces the notion that the greatest changes that we may have in global health begin from the smallest and humblest of beginnings – through awareness, inspiration and innovation. GHC21 will connect hundreds of medical students from all over Australia to the bigger picture of global health through four days of stimulating discussion, five unforgettable social nights, and countless opportunities to get hands-on and make a tangible difference.

Find event and registration details here.

Better Futures Forum Australia 

17-19 August 2021, online

Join Better Futures Australia for a dynamic three-day virtual event where you can interact with and be inspired by climate champions across all corners of society and the economy. The Better Futures Forum will engage decision makers to support ambitious action on climate change through interactive plenary sessions, lightning talks, workshops, exhibits and entertainment across a number of virtual stages. 

Register here.

CleanMed Europe 2021 

29 November - 3 December 2021, online

CleanMed Europe is Europe’s leading conference on sustainable healthcare. The conference showcases cutting-edge practices in sustainable healthcare and is the ideal venue for healthcare innovators to network and share ideas, finding new ways to drive change within their organisations and communities.

Subscribe to their newsletter to stay updated. If you're interested in speaking at CleanMed Europe 2021, submit a proposal here.

In case you missed it ...

The Sustainable Healthcare and Climate Health Aotearoa 2021 Conference

The SHCH2021 Conference ran from 22-23 June, convened by the University of Otago, OraTaiao, Sustainable Health Sector National Network, Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Pacific Region (coordinated by Climate and Health Alliance). If you missed it, Croakey News is kindly collating the conference's live tweets into an informative summary.

Research and Reports

Recent submissions by the Climate and Health Alliance

CAHA completed a submission to National Preventive Health Taskforce in response to the Draft National Preventive Health Strategy. We acknowledged that the draft Strategy is an improvement on the earlier iterations which contained no reference to climate change. However, the strategy proposes to address climate change via a national environmental health strategy to be developed by 2030 – far too long to wait. We recommend a much stronger emphasis on climate change in the Strategy and a more urgent timeline for action.

We also recently completed submissions in response to the Draft NSW Clean Air Strategy and the Victorian Inquiry of Health Impacts of Air Pollution.

The Limits of Livability: A new climate-health report by the Global Climate and Health Alliance 

Australia will face recurring episodes of widespread bushfire smoke and its associated negative health impacts unless governments tackle climate change and support communities and health systems to respond, according to a new report by the Global Climate and Health Alliance, The Limits of Livability: The emerging threat of smoke impacts on health from forest fires and climate change. The report specifies that governments must prepare public health systems to tackle the effects of air pollution from bushfire smoke, which has severe health effects and increases demand on health services.

Read the full report here, the Australia-specific briefing here and some media coverage here.

An Australian Glossary on Health and Climate Change 

Cover of the Glossary on Health and Climate ChangeWe’re so proud to have been part of this important project, to document a common language on climate change and health to support collaborative approaches across disciplines to develop impactful solutions. Big thanks to the legends at Sydney University, NSW Health and NSW DPIE who developed this glossary of climate change and health terms.

Read it here.

New supplementary legal opinion on directors’ duties, climate risk and net zero 

The Centre for Policy Development has released a range of new materials relating to directors’ duties and climate change, including a new supplementary legal opinion on climate change and directors’ duties. This latest analysis emphasises emphasises the increasing standard of care expected of directors in managing climate-related risks and opportunities, and highlights legal risks surrounding “greenwashing”, especially as scrutiny of climate-related disclosures and commitments grows.

Read more here.

Transforming the health system for sustainability: environmental leadership through a value-based health care strategy 

AHHA's Deeble Institute for Health Policy Research recently published a Health Policy Issues brief, called 'Transforming the health system for sustainability: environmental leadership through a value-based health care strategy'. It examines how a value-based health care approach can support health systems to transform for sustainability and provides recommendations for a value-based strategic framework that supports the transformation to sustainable models of health care.

Read the policy brief here and the media release here.

 

Australia in 2030 scenarios and policy agenda

Covers of our two new reportsWith input from 100+ experts across different fields, we have developed five scenarios describing what Australia may look like in 2030, depending on the action we take today, and a new policy agenda to get to the future we want – one that is healthy, regenerative and just.

This future is one in which we prioritise planetary health (Healthy) and the protection of ecosystems and earth systems on which our health depends (Regenerative), along with a culture of cooperation for collective benefit (that’s ‘Just’).

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This newsletter is brought to you by the team at the Climate and Health Alliance.

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