Climate and Health News November 2020

Welcome to the November Climate and Health News! 

We would like to officially welcome recently joined CAHA members  Australian Association of GerontologyAustralian Society of Lifestyle Medicine and Motion Energy Group.

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!

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Healthy, Regenerative and Just: Our vision for a better future 

We are delighted to have launched our new policy agenda: Healthy, Regenerative and Just: Our vision for a better future — a plan for governments to act on climate, protect our health and create a better future for all of us. This policy agenda has been developed through out Rewrite the Future Roundtable Series, where more than 100 leaders across different fields contributed their ideas to develop narrative descriptions of possible alternative futures for Australia — including an integrated preferred future. This policy agenda describes how we get there. It builds on the Framework for a National Strategy on Climate Change, Health and Wellbeing, and adds an 8th Area of Policy Action: Thriving Ecosystems, in recognition of the importance of nature in underpinning human health and wellbeing. Check out Healthy, Regenerative and Just here. (We released it with an Open Letter to the Prime Minister - see below).

Prime Minister must tackle climate change with same urgency as COVID-19: Open Letter from health groups 

CAHA and 28 other leading health groups have signed an Open Letter to the Prime Minister with the Healthy, Regenerative and Just policy agenda, calling for “the same level of urgency in tackling climate change” as the COVID-19 pandemic, and for the Prime Minister to commit to a national climate change response with health and well-being at its core. “To avoid further health and environmental disasters, governments must take heed of the science, listen to health experts and act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the natural environment,” the groups say. Read the Open Letter here


CAHA supports Zali’s Steggall’s climate change bill 

Leaders in business, technology, finance, environment and health have written a joint letter to all Members of Federal Parliament urging them to adopt the Climate Change Bill. The letter, signed by over 100 organisations including CAHA, Unilever, Atlassian, WWF and the Australian Medical Association, calls for all MPs to support the Climate Change Bill that was presented to Parliament on Monday 9 November by Zali Steggall MP, Independent Member for Warringah. Read more here. We are preparing a submission in support of the Bill to the current Inquiry.

Big win for climate in Victoria: solar, energy efficient household and zero emission buses

The Victorian government unveiled $797 million home energy package that will boost energy efficiency standards of new and existing homes, and expand their solar/battery rebate scheme. Energy Minister Lily D'Ambrosio said a total of 140,000 households would be able to install solar panels with no upfront cost over the next two years. Victoria will also allocate $20 million in its next budget to extend and broaden its trials of electric and other zero emissions buses across the state, with a view to switching away from fossil fuels as soon as possible.

Qld government to install solar on 50 hospitals

The Queensland government has announced a commitment to expand their solar panel and energy efficiency in healthcare program from one site to 50 sites across the state. The Queensland government will also create a new office of hospital sustainability within the Queensland Dept of Health and pledge $30 million to slash hospital energy bills. CAHA welcomes this announcement and we are pleased that our recommendations in the Health and Wellbeing Climate Adaptation Plan (HCAP) are being acted upon. We look forward to continuing to work with Queensland Health and the Queensland government to realise these important goals. 

NSW to transform Hunter coal region into state’s next renewable energy zone 

The NSW government has made a new commitment to transform the now coal-dependent Hunter Region as a hub of new renewable energy and storage projects as part of its broad and ground-breaking plans to transition the state’s grid from coal to renewables. The Hunter region will be added to the legislated list of renewable energy zones, alongside those in the New England, South-West and Central-West parts of the state. “Renewable energy zones are the modern-day equivalent of traditional power stations. They combine generation, transmission, storage and system strength services to ensure a secure, affordable and reliable energy system. They will play a crucial role in delivering affordable energy to help replace the State’s existing power stations as they retire,” NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean told Parliament.

Biden Stocks Transition Teams with Climate Experts  

President-elect Joe Biden has embedded climate-aware officials throughout his sprawling transition team. Climate experts, former Obama administration officials, and climate action advocates abound among the teams managing the transition for EPA; the Energy, Interior and Agriculture departments; and the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Unlike past transitions, officials with significant climate or clean energy experience also pop up in departments like State, Defense, Treasury and Justice. Of Biden’s 39 agency review teams, at least 19 have one or more officials with some climate background. Read more here.

Experts criticise Australia's aged care failings over COVID-19

Three-quarters of deaths from COVID-19 in Australia have been in aged care homes — one of the highest rates worldwide of deaths in residential aged care. It has left families grieving and experts angry that their pleas to reform the sector had long been ignored. Professor Joseph Ibrahim from Monash University hopes that COVID-19 will give rise to smaller, community-run residential aged care homes that have a sense of community and social responsibility. Read more here.

Eternity Festival sells out, will become annual fundraiser to give Tathra 100% renewable energy

After being flattened by bushfire, the town of Tathra is fundraising to secure local energy supply with a 100% renewables by 2030, built and owned by the community. The response to Tathra's Eternity Festival has been so positive that there are plans to turn it into an annual event. The 500 tickets sold out in two weeks. "We can show other towns what you can do if you continue to be proactive about solutions to climate change," said Clean Energy for Eternity founder, Matthew Nott. Read more here.

Tropical peatland conservation could protect humans from new diseases

Conservation of tropical peatlands could reduce the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the likelihood of new diseases jumping from animals to humans, said researchers from University of Exeter. Their study suggested that "sustainable management of tropical peatlands and their wildlife is important for mitigating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and reducing the potential for future zoonotic EID emergence and severity, thus strengthening arguments for their conservation and restoration." Read more here.

Does anyone really believe we are going to avert a climate catastrophe? 

Is the transition from dirty fossil fuels to clean renewable energy occurring quickly enough? Is there a danger that people will infer from all the ‘good’ news that we are on track to avert an environmental disaster? Will it generate false expectations and hope? And is focusing on energy transition diverting attention away from other environmental and social problems that are just as serious and need simultaneous urgent attention? Written by Peter Sainsbury, here is a reality check.



Tell your local MP: Support a healthy, regenerative & just future

Healthy, Regenerative and Just: Our Vision for a Better Future is our new policy agenda, supported by a coalition of leading health groups, informed by 100+ thought leaders as a roadmap to the future we want in 2030. Show your support by sending a copy of our policy agenda to your local MP in 2 minutes using this quick tool, and let them know that you want a healthy, regenerative and just future — not a dirty, gas-led 'recovery'. 

Share your views on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) disinfection and reuse

In pandemic situations like COVID-19, hospital resources are frequently stretched beyond capacity. One proposed solution to PPE shortages is the disinfection of PPE for potential reuse. If you are a health professional or other frontline worker who uses PPE for work, University of Auckland wants your help to understand under what circumstances PPE disinfection for potential reuse is acceptable. Complete the survey here, closing on 30 November 2020.

Apply now for WELA 2021 Program 

Applications for the Women's excellent Environmental Leadership Australia (WELA) 2021 leadership development program are now open! The program brings together 20 women a year for an intensive online and retreat-based leadership development program from May to October. Applications close 15 February, 2021. Read more about the program 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 (Become an individual member)

Did you know that individuals, as well as organisations, can join CAHA? You can support our work by becoming a Friend 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. Become a Friend of CAHA here.


BRC-A Buying Power Webinar Ep 7: It’s time to Repower Health

30 November 2020, 13:30 - 14:45 AEDT

Presented by Business Renewable Centre Australia, Sustainability Victoria and Healthy Futures, this webinar invites you to learn about clean, affordable alternative energy in the market that enable healthcare organisations to shift away from fossil fuels, such as through Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). Find event details and register here.

Book launch: How to talk about climate change in a way that makes a difference 

1 December 2020, 17:30 AEDT

Join the launch of Dr Rebecca Huntley's new book How to talk about climate change in a way that makes a difference. This book is a toolkit for understanding our emotional responses to climate change and how we can have meaningful conversations across dividing lines. Check out the Facebook event here.

The MJA-Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change: 2020 Report Launch 

3 December 2020, 15:00 - 16:00 AEDT

Join this free public online event for the launch of the 2020 report of the MJA-Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change. How have last summer's megafires affected Australians' health, and what can the COVID-19 pandemic teach us about how we should respond in the years ahead? Listen from health experts and join the panel discussion. Register here.

Webinar: Promoting collaboration for international climate ambition

3 December 2020, 18:00 - 19:30 AEDT

This webinar will launch the newly formed Australian Youth for International Climate Engagement (AYFICE) Working Group and the AYFICE Network — an opportunity for young Australians and DFAT partners to discuss how it is possible to collaborate to achieve ambitious climate action. The event will involve reflections on the key outcomes from the 2020 UN Climate Dialogues and related processes; a briefing from Australian Ambassador for the Environment, Jamie Isbister, about the pathway to the 2021 UN Climate Conference and key opportunities for young Australians to engage; and an intergenerational panel discussion between government, youth advocates, and international representatives.

Check out the Facebook event to see updates on speakers and panelists. You can register for the event here.  

2020 Sidney Sax Medal Presentation 

8 December 2020, 14:00 - 16:00 AEDT

Join the 2020 Sidney Sax Medal Presentation, a free event by Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association which will be held both virtually and in person to celebrate outstanding achievements of this year’s joint award winners: the Australian National University College of Health and Medicine's Bushfire Impact Working Group, and Patricia Turner, CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation for their work on the 2019-20 bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic. Register here.

Better, Healthier Futures

4 December 2020, 11.45am-12.45pm (AEDT)

Join health leaders from CAHA, Doctors for the Environment Australia, and Australasian College of Emergency Medicine in a Webinar to discuss better, healthier futures, as part of the Better Futures Australia initiative. CAHA has been working with partners to develop Better Futures Australia which aims to inspire action and demonstrate the momentum across all sectors of Australia to tackle climate change today. RSVP for the Webinar here. Read and sign the Better Futures Australia Declaration here. Sign up share your story of climate action here

Webinar: 'Climate change, extreme weather and health: Preparing for La Niña this summer'

TBC: 9 December 12:00 AEDT 

Hear from expert speakers on the impacts of climate change on extreme weather events and health, including what to expect from this summer's La Niña. We will also look at disaster resilience from a health perspective and discuss implications for advocacy. The tentative date is Wednesday, 9 December, 12:00 AEDT, however this may shift to Thursday, 10 December. If you register now, we we will send you the final details early next week. RSVP here to join us.

We hope to see you at the webinar! For questions, please contact: Jessica Rosien, [email protected] 

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...

RISE Southeast Asia Alliance for Health and Climate is officially launched! 

We are delighted to see the formation of another health and climate alliance - formed on 20 November, RISE - Southeast Asia Alliance for Health and Climate was launched! Involving CAHA's partner in the region, Health Care Without Harm - Asia, RISE is an alliance of healthcare leaders supported by the academy, youth and students, women and gender advocates, community leaders, and environmental justice allies in Southeast Asia, uniting for climate action, resilience and a just and healthy recovery from COVID-19. Their launch event featured an overview of why the climate emergency is a health emergency and how healthcare must take leadership on this. Watch the virtual launch here and access the presentations here

Maternal and women's health in a changing climate 

How are heat and air pollution impacting pregnancy outcomes? In this webinar, Dr Kristine Barnden explores the adverse effects of a warming climate and air pollution on pregnancy and explains why climate change matters to women. Watch the full recording here.

First Nations People and Ecological Change

How is climate change impacting the health and wellbeing of First Nations People? This webinar, presented by Aboriginal community leader, Mr Kado Muir, explores how ecological events are impacting First Nations People. Watch here.

Research and Reports

Planetary Health: Protecting Nature to Protect Ourselves 

This recently published book, co-edited by Dr. Samuel Myers and Dr. Howard Frumkin with contributing experts, explores themes that have never been more relevant. The COVID-19 pandemic is the quintessential example of a planetary health problem — human health is jeopardised due to our degradation of the environment and our broken relationships with nature, including wildlife. Planetary Health: Protecting Nature to Protect Ourselves provides a readable introduction to this new paradigm. It also presents strategies to combat environmental changes and its ill-effects. Get the book here.

Make the climate crisis your own research priority

In light of the current pandemic and the persistence of climate denial and political inaction in some countries, the prospects of addressing the climate crisis and preparing for its effects on health may seem dire. However, researchers must continue to advocate for the consideration of climate change–related health effects in education, research and policy-making, and take stock of approaches to ‘greenify’ research activities more broadly. As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, lack of preparedness has enormous costs. When it comes to the climate crisis, translational and clinical researchers can play a vital role in the global “build back better" agenda being led by the UN, and WHO, and others. Read more here.

New Heart Foundation report: What Australia Wants: Living locally in walkable neighbourhoods 

The National Heart Foundation of Australia recently published a new report What Australia Wants: living locally in walkable neighbourhoods, based on a survey measuring the needs and aspirations of everyday Australians regarding the type of neighbourhood and community they would like to live in. This research surveyed 2,895 Australians nationwide and gathered community sentiment on what makes neighbourhoods desirable, liveable and healthy – all set within the Healthy Active by Design framework. Read the report here.

Signalling Virtue, Promoting Harm: Unhealthy commodity industries and COVID-19

Signalling Virtue, Promoting Harm: Unhealthy commodity industries and COVID-19, authored by the NCD Alliance and the SPECTRUM Consortium, is an exposé and analysis of tactics and strategies adopted by the unhealthy commodity industries during the COVID-19 pandemic to date. The report outlines four main strategies: pandemic-tailored marketing campaigns and stunts, corporate social responsibility programmes, shaping policy environments, and fostering partnerships with governments, international agencies and NGOs, illustrated with dozens of examples shared from around the world. Download the report here.

Wildfires, Global Climate Change, and Human Health 

A special report published in the New England Journal of Medicine, led by Professor Yuming Guo and Dr Shanshan Li from the Monash School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, summarises the enormous impacts of climate change on wildfire seasons and the sequential increased morbidity, mortality and mental health impacts. The report says the current exchange between wildfires and climate change is likely to form a reinforcing feedback loop, making wildfires and their health consequences increasingly severe, unless we can come together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Read the report here.

Integrating sustainable healthcare into health professions education

This research aimed to explore health professions educators’ sustainable healthcare education knowledge, attitudes, self-efficacy and teaching practices across 13 health professions courses in one Australian university. The survey reported that two thirds of participants did not know how best to teach sustainable healthcare education. They recommended five actions to strengthen interdisciplinary capacity to integrate sustainable healthcare education: inspire multi-level leadership and collaboration; privilege student voice; develop a sustainable healthcare education curriculum and resources repository; and integrate it into course accreditation standards. Read the report here.


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 [email protected] if you have any upcoming events or information to include in our next newsletter. And remember to follow us on Facebook and Twitter!