Pages tagged "climate"

  • Climate and health at Melbourne Sustainable Living Festival 2013

    Climate and health at the Sustainable Living Festival 2013

    The Climate and Health Alliance hosted three very successful events at this year's Sustainable Living Festival in Melbourne - a Climate and Health Clinic; The Heat is On - a forum on climate change, health and extreme heat; and Our Uncashed Dividend - a session on the health benefits of climate action. Professor David Karoly, Fiona Armstrong, Dr Liz Hanna and Dr Tony Bartone. By shotbykatie. A full report, more photos and a blog featuring some of our marvellous volunteers coming soon!    

  • Energy policy like profiting from slavery

    This article was first published on ABC Environment Online on 19th February 2013. Anyone holding onto the quaint notion that our elected representative govern in the interests of the community will see how false that is when they look at energy policy in Australia, writes Fiona Armstrong. Australia is currently in the middle of a coal rush. Coupled with the exploration of coal seam gas expanding at a rapid rate across Queensland and New South Wales, this looks (on paper) to be one of the country's biggest and most rapid industry expansions in our short history. Australia is currently the world's largest exporter of metallurgical coal and ranks sixth in exports of thermal coal. In 2012, we sold around $60 billion worth of coal, mostly to Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Looking to the future, Australia's national energy policy, theEnergy White Paper, anticipates strong demand from these nations for Australian coal and prioritises coal production as a core element of energy for the coming decades. Around 30 new coal mines and coal mine expansions are planned for New South Wales and Queensland, and if they proceed would more than double Australia's current coal exports of more than 300 million tonnes per annum. Much of the current expansion of coal is predicated on rising demand from China, and India; a stable global economic environment; and industry denial about climate science. These assumptions have shaky foundations and investors should heed the clear warning from risk experts of the imminent destruction of value of high-carbon investments and that climate change will continue to deliver systemic shocks to regional and global economies. China is reportedly looking to cap energy production from coal and indicated that coal consumption will peak during the next five year plan. These announcements suggest the Australian coal industry's expectation of an ongoing boom is inflated by wishful thinking. Closer to home, research from the Australia Institute suggests the expansion of coal exports is adversely affecting the national economy - its growth occurs at the expense of other industries. It suggests cutting coal production would lead to a net economic benefit, with growth made possible in other sectors such as manufacturing, tourism and education. And regardless of where it's burnt, Australia's coal represents a huge contribution to global emissions. Proposed coal exports would lead to an additional 700 million tonnes of CO2 emissions, and would place Australia (just the Galilee Basin in Qld alone) at a ranking of seventh largest contributor in the world to global CO2 emissions arising from the burning of fossil fuels. For a nation that likes to pretend we contribute only 1.5 per cent to global emissions, that's quite a jump in our contribution. What does it mean for our climate commitments? The International Energy Agency World Energy Outlook 2012 (pdf) was quite clear about the prospects for limiting damages and reversing climate change associated with global warming from burning fossil fuels. Quite simply, if the world wishes to limit warming to less than two degrees (a level that is considered the absolute maximum in order to prevent escalating and irreversible warming trends), we cannot even exploit existing fossil fuel reserves, much less liberate even more. The expansion of coal and coal seam gas (given the high emissions signature of CSG from emissions during extraction) would completely negate many times over any gains that are made from emissions reductions achieved through Australia's carbon price. There is also serious harm to human health associated with the coal rush. The burning of coal for electricity is associated with the compromised health of thousands of people living in proximity to these plants. The mining and transportation of coal also carries serious health risks from coal dust and toxic pollutants released during extraction and rail transport to ports. But who is looking out for the community in terms of protecting health and wellbeing? For those who still hold the quaint notion that elected parliamentary representatives might be interested in achieving the best outcomes for the community, it's disappointing news. State governments appear willing to approve projects despite serious community opposition because of the revenue they provide in mining royalties. Climate risk is severely underestimated in the Australian Government's Energy White Paper, and Premiers Newman and O'Farrell also appear oblivious to the climate implications of their respective coal booms. Even the health professionals have been missing in action, with communities such as those in Maules Creek in NSW and adjacent to a fourth coal export terminal in Newcastle forced to undertake or organise their own health impact assessments from proposed coal projects. Supported by volunteer groups such as Doctors for the Environment, community groups are researching health impacts, setting up air quality monitoring, and collecting baseline health data. Last week however signaled a shift in the involvement of the health and medical community in Australia. Health leaders met at a national Roundtable in Canberra last week and resolved to engage more directly with energy policy in this country, to see that the local and global implications of the coal rush are highlighted in terms of the impact on health. Speaking to the Roundtable of around 40 health care leaders, Professor Colin Butler from the School of Public Health at Canberra University said: "Australia's reliance on the export of coal is no more justifiable than profiting from slavery or the supply of cocaine. Of course, energy is vital, including in Asia, but a clever country would develop energy technologies that can wean civilisation from its highly dangerous reliance on 19th century technology." A statement (pdf) from the Roundtable participants said: "The risks to human health from energy and resources policy are not being well accounted for in current policy decisions. Significant policy reform is needed to ensure health and wellbeing is not compromised by policy decisions in other sectors. Recognising the importance of the social and environmental determinants of health is an important part of that." Clearly, relying on the weight of evidence in relation to climate and human health is insufficient to lead to effective, safe, equitable policy. Many of us who participated in the meeting in Canberra last week believe civil society leaders such as health professionals and health sector executives have a responsibility to help develop policy in every sector that protects and promotes health. This involves getting a better understanding of health risks associated with energy and climate policy - and making sure the community is aware of these risks as they prepare to vote for a new national government. Because right now, energy policy is possibly our greatest threat to health on the planet. Fiona Armstrong is the Convenor of the Climate and Health Alliance, which together with Public Health Association of Australia,Climate Change Adaptation Research Network - Human Health, Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association, and National Rural Health Alliance co-hosted the Health Implications of Energy Policy Roundtable and Workshop.
  • Book your tickets to Melbourne!

    The Climate and Health Alliance is involved in THREE events at the 2013 Melbourne Sustainable Living Festival:

    Climate and Health Clinic - all weekend Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th February

    Roving ˜health promoters' will help people develop their own individualised ˜prescriptions for a healthy life and a health planet'. The clinic and ˜prescriptions' provide opportunities for people to learn about sustainable lifestyles are healthy lifestyles and how cutting emissions can improve health. Some strategies people can choose for their own prescription include: walking, cycling or using public transport; switching to clean renewable energy e.g. installing solar panels; adopting a plant based diet; or spending time with nature e.g. bushwalking, or getting involved in community gardening or tree planting projects. To volunteer, contact Volunteer Coordinator Bronwyn Wauchope [email protected] or Fiona Armstrong [email protected].  

    The Heat is On “ Climate change, extreme heat and human health “ a panel discussion: 3PM-4PM Sat 16th Feb in The Greenhouse @ Birrarung Marr

    Featuring CAHA President Dr Liz Hanna; CAHA scientific advisor Professor David Karoly; and Victorian AMA Vice President Dr Tony Bartone on the impact of climate change on extreme weather including heatwaves; how heatwaves affect people's health; and what we can do about it.  

    Our Uncashed Dividend - 11am-12pm Sunday 17th Feb in Under the Gum talk tent

    Come and hear the good news about climate action “ how strategies to reduce emissions can improve your own and the community's health, not to mention save money. Our transition to low-carbon living provides the opportunity to create healthier, happier communities and could save billions of dollars for health budgets by avoiding much ill health and lost productivity. The report Our Uncashed Dividend: The Health Benefits of Climate Action, produced by the Climate and Health Alliance and The Climate Institute, spells out the evidence. Come and hear from report author Fiona Armstrong and contributor Corey Watts about our nation's ˜Uncashed Dividend'.    

  • Have you signed the DOHA Declaration on Climate, Health and Well-being?

    Health Must Be Central to Climate Action

    The international health and medical community have developed a joint statement on climate health and wellbeing calling for health to be central to national and global climate action. Signatories include the World Medical Association, the International Council of Nurses, International Federation of Medical Students, Health Care Without Harm, Climate and Health Alliance, European Public Health Association, Public Health Association of Australia, Royal College of General Practitioners (UK), Climate and Health Council, OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate & Health Council, NHS Sustainable Development Unit, Umeå Center for Global Health Research, Australian Medical Students' Association (AMSA) and many others. The Doha Declaration outlines why health experts are extremely worried about slow progress on climate action, and highlights how the health co-benefits of emissions can build support for ambitious climate strategies. If you want to support this statement, sign up here: www.dohadeclaration.weebly.com

  • Extreme heat: Australias record breaking heatwave

    Australians have been sweltering this summer as extreme heat conditions are felt across many parts of the country. Health groups are urging people to take care in the heat, observe heat and fire warnings and to seek medical advice if they feel unwell. There is heat health advice available from each of the state and territory healthy departments (Victoria; NSW; Qld; SA; WA; NT; Tas; and ACT) as well as local healthcare providers to help reduce exposure and risks to health. The Climate Commission has developed a new resource on extreme heat Off the Charts: Extreme Australian Summer Heat highlighting the links between climate change and extreme heat events, urging appropriate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to put measures in place to prepare for, and respond to, extreme weather. Download the report here.

  • Protecting children from climate change

    The Climate and Health Alliance is particularly concerned about the health and well-being of children in relation to climate change. Children are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of climate change and suffer around 90% of the disease burden from climate change. As part of its advocacy efforts, along with child health researchers and child advocates the Climate and Health Alliance has written a letter to child advocates and research institutions, asking that they include climate change as an urgent priority area for child advocacy, research, policy and practice. The letter, co-signed by leading children and health researchers and advocates, sent to all Children's Commissioners, child health research centres and advocacy groups in October 2012, states: "We are only beginning to understand the impacts that climate change will have on children's development, health and mental health. In addition to a greater emphasis on mitigation, more research at the regional and local levels is desperately needed so that we can adequately understand, prepare for and adapt to the impacts of climate change. Because climate change poses such a significant threat to our children and future generations we believe that child advocate and research institutions have a responsibility to have it as a priority area for advocacy, research, policy and practice. We have attached a list of ideas for inclusion in a research, policy and practice agenda. We also believe that, in order to reduce harm to children and future generations, child advocate and research institutions should have a policy to reduce their organisation's carbon footprint (e.g., by switching to Green power, purchasing carbon offsets for air travel, and monitoring the carbon footprint of suppliers). As concerned scientists and child advocates we should also publicly call for effective climate change mitigation strategies at the local, national and international levels to help limit the threat to the development, health and mental health of our children and future generations. Strategies to reduce emissions would have the added public health benefit of decreasing the incidence and severity of many chronic and avoidable diseases associated with our high-carbon lifestyle." The full text of the letter can be found here. Responses received by January 2013:  
  • The toll from coal - Newcastle seeks to stop T4

    The proposal for a fourth coal terminal at Newcastle has united local residents in a joint effort to protect community and workers' health. Community members are deeply concerned about the impact of coal dust from the proposed terminal. Health experts visited the city earlier this year to talk about the danger of coal dust. Between 1984 and 2012 coal exports from Newcastle increased ten-fold from 21 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) to 210 Mtpa. The proposed fourth terminal (T4) would see this increase to 330 Mtpa, making Newcastle the world's largest coal port. A survey of 580 households found that fewer than 10% of residents support T4 and most are concerned about health impacts. Newcastle residents routinely wipe coal dust from every horizontal surface inside and outside their homes. T4 could also mean 100 more uncovered coal trains every day, resulting in even higher levels of particle pollution. There are currently 25,000 children attending schools within 500 metres of the coal corridor. The health and social harms of coal mining and transport are well documented. People living in coal-effected communities are more likely to suffer heart, lung and kidney cancer, respiratory and cardiovascular disease and birth defects. There is a direct link between long-term exposure to particle pollution and hospital admissions, emergency department attendance, asthma, respiratory and cardiovascular disease, congestive heart failure and premature death. The fine particles associated with coal mining, coal transport and the diesel emissions from coal trains are monitored at locations throughout the Hunter Valley. During the last year, monitoring stations recorded 98 exceedances of the national standard for PM10 (particles of up to ten microns in diameter). Residents who subscribe to the EPA's air pollution alerts often receive more than one each day, especially on dry, windy days when coal dust is blown from the valley's vast open cut mines. NSW Planning Minister Brad Hazzard has established Planning Assessment Commission to weigh up T4's merits and impacts. They must weight up the concerns raised in 500 submissions, 90% of which opposed the terminal. Commissioners will advise the Minister in early 2013. In their submission on T4, NSW Health noted that there are already exceedances of the national PM10 standard in Newcastle and that uncovered coal wagons and diesel emissions will increase particle pollution in residential areas between the mines and the port. There are also concerns about workers' health. A cancer cluster has been identified at one of Newcastle's three existing coal terminals. Between 1983 and 2006, 63 cancers including melanoma, prostate and bowel cancer were diagnosed among 859 company employees. Terminal workers are 1.8 times more likely to be diagnosed with cancer than the average population and 2.8 times more likely than those only employed at a neighbouring terminal. The proposed terminal would also have a huge environmental impact. Increased coal exports would mean at least 15 new or expanded open-cut coalmines in the Hunter Valley and Gunnedah Basin, resulting in destruction of forests and agricultural land, and polluted water. Burning the coal would produce more than 300 million tonnes of greenhouse pollution each year, more than every power station and every vehicle in Australia. The proposed terminal and its uncovered coal piles would displace hundreds of hectares of wetland on Kooragang Island where 117 bird species have been recorded, including at least four migratory shorebirds. Much of Kooragang Island is internationally recognised under the Ramsar Convention. The community are concerned however that these facts alone will not prevent the NSW Government approving Port Waratah Coal Services proposal, and that T4 will only be rejected through community and political pressure. The local alliance of 14 community groups is actively communicating these concerns to elected representatives but seek wider community support. Health professionals and groups can help protect the Newscastle community from the run-away impacts of the coal boom by: 1. Writing to Premier Barry O'Farrell and Planning Minister Brad Hazzard to express your concern. Click here https://stopt4.org.au to send an instant letter to them. 2. Donate to the Coal Terminal Action Group https://tinyurl.com/stopt4donate who are currently raising funds for air quality monitoring along the coal corridor and to place a full page ad in the Newcastle Herald. 3. Like CTAG on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/CoalTerminalActionGroup to receive regular updates about campaign events and developments. James Whelan, Coal Terminal Action Group

  • DOHA Declaration on Climate, Health and Wellbeing

    The international health and medical community have developed a joint statement on climate health and wellbeing calling for health to be central to climate action during the COP18 international climate change negotiations in Doha, Qatar. Signatories to the Doha Declaration for Climate, Health and Wellbeing include the World Medical Association, the International Council of Nurses, International Federation of Medical Students, Health Care Without Harm, European Public Health Association, Royal College of General Practitioners (UK), Climate and Health Council, OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate & Health Council, NHS Sustainable Development Unit, UmeÃ¥ Center for Global Health Research, Climate and Health Alliance, Public Health Association of Australia, the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association, Doctors Reform Society, Australian Association of Social Workers, and the Australian Medical Students Association and many others. The Doha Declaration calls for health to be central to climate action, and highlights the opportunities to improve health through emissions reductions - pointing out that reducing fossil fuel consumption and moving to low carbon energy systems can deliver many benefits to health worldwide. "The impact of climate change on health is one of the most significant measures of harm associated with our warming planet," the Declaration says. "Protecting health is therefore one of the most important motivations for climate action." This effort builds on the collaboration at the 2011 global climate and health summit among the health and medical community in advocate for climate action. The Doha Declaration outlines why health experts are extremely worried about the slow progress at the international climate negotiations, and highlights how the health co-benefits of emissions can build support for ambitious climate action. This joint statement from the global health community reiterates policy demands from the 2011 Durban Declaration and Global Call to Action urging countries to consider the health implications of climate change as well as the health benefits of climate action “ which can provide savings that either largely or completely offset the costs of mitigation and adaptation. This statement will be used in discussion with policy makers in Doha, but also serves as roadmap of future action. See the CAHA media release here. If you want to support this statement, sign up here: www.dohadeclaration.weebly.com

  • The project known as now

    An exciting project is evolving... The Climate and Health Alliance recently had the opportunity to crowdsource ideas for a new publication in the New News Incubator at the Melbourne Writers' Festival event. Guided by Daniel May, Fiona Armstrong, Paul Ramadge, and Bronwen Clune, this workshop worked to develop an idea to create a new online publication in the area of climate and health “ from scratch! Participants helped build the publication's identity, sketch out a community development strategy, a business case and a story list. The workshop was moderated by the incomparable health journalist and Croakey blogger Melissa Sweet. It has evolved into an proposal to create an online ˜hub' provisionally called now to showcase what healthy sustainable societies look like through sharing stories of existing low or zero carbon initiatives to help create an appealing narrative for positive change. now is proposed as an online ˜hub' to showcase what healthy sustainable societies look like by aggregating and documenting stories and images and case studies of existing low or zero carbon initiatives as a vehicle to help create an appealing narrative for positive change. Human health and wellbeing are dependent on sustainable environments. now uses health as a ˜hook' to build support for environmental sustainability and bio-sensitive societies. Stories and content will range from the micro to the macro “ i.e. what's possible in low carbon food production in Cindy's backyard all the way to stories about what's possible in terms of transforming our large scale industrial agricultural systems and infrastructure. now will function as a library as well as a ˜publication' with rich archival and background materials while presenting a dynamic and lively ever changing ˜face' with fresh content, and evocative images that will be equally appealing to consumers/community as it is to experts. A report on the MWF event is available here. A collaborating group is working together to further develop the idea. Watch out for further details!
  • CAHA joins 24 hours of Climate Reality!

    In November, along with international partner Health Care Without Harm, CAHA joined 24 Hours of Reality: The Dirty Weather Report. Broadcast live on the Internet, this event was viewed by more than 15 million people around. Health Care Without Harm founder and President Gary Cohen joined a panel Al Gore in New York to talk about the role of sustainable healthcare in addressing some of the world's climate and environmental challenges. CAHA Convenor Fiona Armstrong joined climate scientist Professor David Karoly, Australian Conservation Foundation CEO Don Henry, and Al Gore in conversation to discuss the impacts of climate change on human health and how we can respond. Watch the online video here. You can join CAHA on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, learn about this issue, and send us your ideas. Find out more at Health Care Without Harm's Global Climate and Health Resource Centre.