Australia scores ZERO on health for its climate pledge

Monday 22 May 2023

FAIL! The Global Climate and Health Alliance (GCHA) has scored Australia's latest UN climate pledge a “zero” because it fails to recognise the health risks and benefits in its greenhouse gas reduction targets.

GCHA assessed the 58 national climate pledges (known as Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs) resubmitted to the UN’s climate convention between 1 October 2021 and 23 September 2022 for their inclusion of health. In June last year, the Albanese government submitted its pledge to cut emissions by 43% below 2005 levels by 2030. Read the assessment

16 countries scored above 10 out of a possible 18 in the report, and all were low to middle income nations, with Burundi in first place and Cote d’Ivoire in second.

Australia was one of only six countries to score zero in the report, alongside Bahrain, Belarus, Japan, New Zealand and Turkey.

The main takeaway of the analysis? “With COP28 fast approaching, low- and middle income countries lead the way when it comes to inclusion of health goals in their climate commitments, while more wealthy, industrialised nations – responsible for the majority of historical global greenhouse gas emissions – lack long term vision.” 

CAHA will be using this analysis to engage with relevant stakeholders.

The latest [report] reveals just how far Australia has fallen behind other countries in the last decade when it comes to action to protect people’s health from climate change.

As many other countries recognise the deep links between a changing climate and the health of populations, Australia is being left far behind as other countries adopt an integrated approach to climate change.

This assessment of Australia’s NDC takes a deep dive into the extent to which climate’s consequences for human health are recognised in Australia’s global commitments to act on climate change.

The 0/18 score reflects the current absence of any policies mentioned in the NDC that explicitly invest in health, including, for example, a national climate and health adaptation plan, investment in strengthening the capacity of the health workforce to respond to climate change, or investing in climate strategies that also deliver health benefits.

- Fiona Armstong, CAHA Founder and Strategic Projects Director

Further reading