Australian health institutions receive global awards for climate leadership

Wednesday 02 December 2020

Ambulance Victoria, UnitingCare Queensland and the New South Wales Nurses and Midwives’ Association are among five health institutions across Australia and New Zealand to be awarded for their leadership in climate action in the global 2020 Health Care Climate Challenge.

The Health Care Climate Challenge (HCCC) is run by international NGO Health Care Without Harm and aims to mobilise health care institutions around the world to protect public health from climate change. Institutions taking part in the challenge have so far made commitments to reduce their carbon emissions by more than 37 million tonnes, the equivalent of a year of carbon emissions from 9 coal-fired power plants. The awards recognise health institutions for their work on climate change across three broad categories: leadership, resilience and mitigation.

This year Ambulance Victoria received a Gold Climate Leadership award for their commitment to be 100 per cent powered by renewable energy by 2025. They also received a Silver Renewable Energy award for sourcing 3.7 per cent of their energy from onsite renewables in the year 2019-20.

UnitingCare Queensland received a Silver Climate Leadership award for their work managing the health impacts of extreme heat on older people and reducing heat stress in aged care facilities. The New South Wales Nurses and Midwives’ Association received a Gold Climate Leadership award for their policy leadership demonstrated in being part of the Hunter Jobs Alliance.

Across the ditch, Auckland District Health Board and Northland District Health Board both received Gold Emissions Reductions awards for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, by 29 and 23 per cent on their respective baseline years. Auckland District Health Board also received Gold Climate Leadership and Silver Climate Resilience awards.

Climate and Health Alliance Executive Director and former nurse, Fiona Armstrong, said:

“Climate change is being increasingly acknowledged as a health emergency, with health services already facing increased demand from climate change related health conditions.

“In Australia, health is estimated to be responsible for 7 per cent of our national emissions, meaning that the health sector is part of the problem, as well as being part of the solution.

“Health services can make an important contribution to tackling climate change by working to reduce their carbon and environmental footprint.

“We’re proud to see so many members of our Green and Healthy Hospitals network in Australia and New Zealand playing a leadership role in tackling climate change and boosting resilience in healthcare institutions and communities.”

View all the 2020 Health Care Climate Challenge award winners at and learn more about the Health Care Climate Challenge at

Media contact: Adam Pulford, 0424 885 387

Quotes from award-winning health institutions:

Ambulance Victoria, Director of Sustainability, Sally Mangan: “It’s wonderful to receive this recognition as we move towards our renewables vision. Sourcing 100% of AV’s energy requirements from renewables is an important part of our transition to become net zero carbon by 2050. We believe that it’s important for us to make our contribution to this transition – no mean feat for an organisation that services the entire state 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

UnitingCare Queensland, Manager Environmental Sustainability, Judene Andrews: “UnitingCare is proud to receive this Climate Leadership award. Many of the people we serve — the elderly and people experiencing financial hardship or chronic illness — are disproportionately impacted by extreme weather events and heatwaves, so we are committed to supporting climate resilience as well as preserving a healthy environment by reducing our own carbon footprint. We are grateful to have received funding from the Queensland Government to pilot an industry-led model for community outreach during heatwave events, and to partner with the University of Sunshine Coast University and Griffith University to reduce heat stress among aged care residents through ‘green’ infrastructure.”

NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association, Professional Officer, Janet Roden: “This is a great win for New South Wales Nurses & Midwives’ Association! On behalf of the Association I would like to thank my Climate Change Action Reference Group Team, many of whom work tirelessly.”

Auckland District Health Board, Chief Executive, Ailsa Claire: “We are delighted to receive these awards. It has been a tough year for everyone, and the awards recognise the incredible efforts of our ‘team of 11,000’ to lead change throughout the organisation. We are aware of the health effects and environmental impact of climate change and, as one of the largest employers in New Zealand, we are deeply committed to our sustainability programme. The programme led by Manjula Sickler has had wider community and sector engagement, working together with partners we are confident we will achieve a net zero emissions target by 2050.”

Northland District Health Board, Sustainability Development Manager, Margriet Geesink: “Northland District Health Board acknowledges its responsibility to act together as kaitiaki (guardians) of our environment and to keep our climate healthy. Northland DHB has therefore set the ambitious target to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent in 2030 compared with 2016. We have been able to reduce our emissions by 23 per cent while growing over 30 per cent since our benchmark year and it is great to see some recognition for this in the award we won.”