Pages tagged "energy"

  • The historic Paris Agreement: 2015

    Please see here for the historic Paris Agreement which recognises the first time the desirability of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees.

    Below a comment provided to media on behalf of CAHA and further below some comments from civil society leaders from The Guardian, and others from the Australian civil society COP network. (Thanks to James Lorenz, Prue Pickering and Sam Webb).
    "The Paris Agreement is a positive response to the grave threats we face from our fossil fuelled societies and a clear sign the world's nations are willing to work together to help achieve the necessary and urgent transition to a low carbon world.
    This Agreement signals a shift from obstruction to cooperation, from rhetoric to action, and, we hope, marks the beginning of a global effort to protect and promote people's health and wellbeing through cutting emissions and combatting climate change."
    Fiona Armstrong
    Executive Director
    Climate and Health Alliance Australia

    "Green groups welcome draft Paris text"

    Here's what the many NGOs here in Paris think of the final draft. It's overwhelmingly positive with caveats.

    Avaaz "a turning point in history, paving the way for the shift to 100% clean energy that the world wants and the planet needs" WWF UK "We have a clear vision in the strong long term goal; mechanisms to address the gap between that aspiration and the countries' current commitments; and the foundations for financing the transition to a low-carbon future."

    Greenpeace "The wheel of climate action turns slowly, but in Paris it has turned. This deal puts the fossil fuel industry on the wrong side of history. There's much in the text that has been diluted and polluted by the people who despoil our planet, but it contains a new imperative to limit temperature rises to 1.5C."

    350.org "This marks the end of the era of fossil fuels. There is no way to meet the targets laid out in this agreement without keeping coal, oil and gas in the ground."

    EDF (Environmental Defense Fund) The agreement will send a powerful, immediate signal to global markets that the clean energy future is open for business. It makes a moral call for dramatic action that leaves no one behind, and it moves us closer to the crucial turning point when global carbon emissions, which have been rising for more than two centuries, finally begin to decline."

    Christian Aid "This is a historic agreement and the culmination of a path the world set out on four years ago."

    Cafod, Catholic aid agency "For poor people living on the frontline of climate change this deal offers hope for a brighter future, but not yet the security that we'll get there quick enough."

    E3G, thinktank "The transition to a low carbon economy is now unstoppable, ensuring the end of the fossil fuel age."

    ActionAid "what we have been presented with doesn't go far enough to improve the fragile existence of millions around the world"

    Dermot O'Gorman, WWF-Australia, CEO

    "The agreement puts in place a global framework that sees countries continually strengthen the pollution reduction targets they set over time."

    "Paris marks the end of the fossil fuel age, and the acceleration of the renewable energy era, sending a clear long-term signal to business and investors."

    "Now that we have a new global agreement, it's time for the Australian government to step up and put in place a long-term plan to achieve its promised pollution reductions. This plan should include policies to clean up and modernise our energy sector, and a ramp-up of funding to help vulnerable nations and communities adapt to climate change."

    Helen Szoke, Oxfam Australia, Chief Executive

    "The Paris agreement can be a major marker in the fight against hunger, poverty and inequality. But only if countries including Australia now match what has been agreed with action. And fast."

    "The real leadership in Paris came from those on the frontline of the climate crisis, including our Pacific neighbours, and from the millions of people around the world already working to build a resilient and sustainable future."

    "The outcome demands Australia now step up, transition rapidly from a polluting backwater to a modern clean energy economy, and provide far greater support to poorer countries with tackling climate change."

    Kelly O'Shanassy, Australian Conservation Foundation, CEO

    "For the first time in history, humanity has agreed to limit pollution and create a pathway towards a safer climate. Now the real work starts and Australia, as one of the world's biggest polluters, must do its fair share to cut pollution.

    "As we head into the 2016 election year, ACF urges Prime Minister Turnbull to listen to the millions of Australians and people around the world calling for a better future by making genuine changes that will unshackle our country from dirty energy and pave the way for a truly innovative renewable future.

    Ben Davison, Chief of Staff, ACTU

    "It is crucial as we make the transition towards a net zero emissions planet that it is a just transition.

    "Working people, low income households, the poorest nations and their communities should not bear the costs of the Climate change whether through job destruction, lack of access to new energy sources or destruction of their Eco systems.

    "While we would have preferred stronger language and more ambition, the paris agreement does provide us with a baseline from which to build that just transition and we will be continuing to work with civil society, business and government towards a better outcome after COP21."

    Josh Gilbert, Chair, NSW Young Farmers

    "The COP21 Paris agreement is an exciting time for Australia, particularly the Australian agricultural sector.

    "It is widely recognised that farmers are on the front lines of climate change and that there is a great opportunity for farmers to not only feed and clothe the world, but also power and empower our communities through renewables.

    "I also welcome comments regarding the importance of food security. In the next 35 years, farmers will need to double food production to feed an additional 2.3 billion people. While there will be challenges in Australia to help accomplish this feat, particularly climate change and urban encroachment, there is also a great opportunity to share our knowledge systems internationally with our colleagues.

    Jaden Harris, Climate Change Campaigner, Australian Youth Climate Coalition

    "This historic agreement gives young people hope that a safe climate future is still within reach. We're still on track for a 3-degree warmer world, which would devastate vulnerable communities worldwide, but now we have a structure to increase ambition and young people will lead the call to use it.

    "The transition to a clean energy future is inevitable, today confirms the fossil fuel era is coming to an end. Australia is being left behind, Turnbull needs to match our rhetoric in Paris with real change back home. Young people are missing out on the opportunities of renewable energy and the fairer society it helps create"

    Michael Jacobs, Senior Adviser for the New Climate Economy project, and former advisor to UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown: "This is a historic moment. The world's governments have finally understood what the science has long been telling them - we have to act now if the earth's climate is to remain safe. Today they have committed to act - and to act together. Historians will see this as the turning point: the moment when the world started shifting decisively away from fossil fuels and towards clean and safe energy systems. Remarkably this effectively signals the end of the fossil fuel era. This is unquestionably a great success. But the work really starts now. These commitments now need to turn into policy, and policy into investment. They can congratulate themselves for 24 hours - now they need to act."

    Media contact: Benjamin Jullien, [email protected] +33 669 016 384 Jennifer Morgan, World Resources Institute: "This agreement would mark a true turning point in the global effort to address climate change. The text reflects both the push for high ambition and the voices of the most vulnerable. It accelerates the energy transformation that is well underway, pointing us to a safer and stronger future."

    Media contact: Rhys Gerholdt, [email protected] +1 202 341 1323 Monica Araya, member of the Climate Vulnerable expert group: "This agreement marks the beginning of a new era where we find good examples of climate action from all, developed and developing countries, because it is in everyone's best interests to do so. It is no longer about who is acting and who is not, but how strong the world can act together."

    Media contact: James Lorenz, [email protected], +61 400 376 021 Nigel Topping, We Mean Business (WMB): "This is a remarkable diplomatic settlement and a historic economic catalyst. The world's governments have sent a decisive signal to businesses and investors that will accelerate the shift towards a thriving, clean global economy. The Paris Agreement for net zero emissions will turn the billions of investment we've seen so far into the trillions the world needs to bring clean energy and prosperity to all. The diplomatic process that included businesses, investors, cities, states, regions and civil society created a powerful alliance which has clearly raised the level of ambition in the negotiations. Businesses and investors look forward to playing a continued role in turning this agreement into on the ground reality."

    Press contact: Callum Grieve, [email protected], +44 7734 399 994 Major General (ret) A M N Muniruzzaman, Chairman of Global Military Advisory Council on Climate Change (GMACCC) Bangladesh: "Military leaders, assembled under GMACCC, realising the fragility of the situation call upon leaders for urgent action to implement the Paris agreement, to save mankind from the catastrophic consequences of climate change. The Paris agreement must be more than paperwork. Its success depends on a verifiable, implementable, transparent and fair agreement which is made accountable. The military has a new, definitive, more humanitarian role, to deal with millions of people on the move, and this will only grow over time as climate impacts bite."

    Press contact: Matt Luna, +31 68 394 8959, [email protected] Anthony Hobley, the Carbon Tracker Initiative: "A 1.5 degrees Carbon Budget means the fossil fuel era is well and truly over. There is absolutely no room for error. Fossil fuel companies must accept that they are an ex growth stock and urgently re-assess their business plans. New energy technologies have leapt down the cost curve in recent years. The effect of the momentum created in Paris means this is only going to accelerate. The need for the financial markets to fund the clean energy transition creates unparalleled opportunity for growth on a scale not seen since the industrial revolution."

    Contact: [email protected] Christoph Bals, Political Director at Germanwatch: "Our experience in Germany has shown that renewable energy can be scaled up rapidly with significant economic benefit. The decarbonisation signal from the Paris Agreement will increase and accelerate these benefits, but Germany still needs to up its game. Chancellor Merkel needs to commit to a plan to phase out the use of coal within the next two decades. The Paris outcome requires developed countries to come back next year with a credible plan for reaching their 2020 targets - that just is not going to be possible without a coal phase-out."

    Press contact 1: Vera Künzel, +33 643 80 69 99, [email protected]; Press contact 2: Katrin Riegger, +49 157 71 33 57 96, [email protected] Chris Field, Founding Director, Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology: "The world truly reached a turning point with the historic Paris agreement, but this is not a time for self-congratulations. This is our moment to unleash ambition with new levels of innovation, building the clean energy system of the 21st century, developing sustainably, and comprehensively protecting people and the planet."

    Muhtari Aminu-Kano, Senior Policy Advisor in Poverty Reduction at Islamic Relief Worldwide, an international humanitarian organization, and the former CEO of Nigeria's leading national environmental NGO: "Muslims living in some of the world's poorest and most vulnerable countries can be hopeful that this climate deal provides a foundation for positive change. In August, Muslim leaders laid out in a declaration, grounded in the Qur'anic teachings, their vision of the low-carbon future necessary for the peace and prosperity of the planet: while COP21 reaffirmed that this vision is necessary and feasible with strong political willpower, the various positive announcements of the last two weeks (and last six years) prove that it is already on its way to becoming a reality. There is still much work to be done: the Muslim community, in continued solidarity with those from other faiths and humanity at large, must now encourage those in Paris and beyond to live out their pledges and take responsibility as stewards of the Earth."

    Press contact for Muhtari Aminu-Kano: Lotifa Begum, [email protected], +447850226689
    Rob Bernard, Chief Environmental Strategist, Microsoft: "Microsoft stands with the many voices within the private and public sectors urging the negotiators in Paris to come to a final agreement on climate change. Reaching agreement on a long-term goal framework for cutting carbon emissions and achieving GHG neutrality is critical to address climate change. It will also provide the certainty required for corporations around the world to accelerate their low-carbon investments and foster the creation of a true low-carbon global economy."

    Kathleen McLaughlin, chief sustainability officer for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.: "We believe climate change is an urgent and pressing challenge, and it is clear that we must all do our part to reduce, avoid and mitigate the impact of rising greenhouse gas (GHG) levels. That's why we support the UN's call for the U.S. corporate sector to commit to science-based targets to reduce emissions. In addition, we have already successfully decoupled our growth from emissions, and recently announced that we exceeded our goal to reduce 20 MMT of GHG emissions from our supply chain."

    Kevin Rabinovitch, Global Sustainability Director, Mars Incorporated: "Back in October, we joined with the rest of the food and drink industry calling on global leaders to embrace the opportunity presented in Paris. Now really is the time for talk to become action and to meaningfully address the reality of climate change. Global policy makers should think big. Because big thinking leads to big results. Having a long term science based target will drive ideas and innovation, ultimately making what may have seemed impossible “ possible. We are on the cusp of a deal that can change the world. And as a business we are committed to tackling the climate challenges that face us. We hope that global leaders will do the same."

    Professor Peng Gong, Co-Chair, Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change, Tsinghua University, Beijing: "Beijing's first-ever 'red alert' this week, called due to dangerous levels of air pollution in the city, is a clear symbol of the crucial importance of a strong climate deal here in Paris. Concerted action on climate change, particularly through a transition to clean energy, has immense potential to protect respiratory and cardiovascular health and to improve quality of life. In China, it is estimated that over 4000 people die every day as a result of air pollution, much of which comes from burning coal, and worldwide, air pollution is responsible for 7 million deaths every year: a shocking one in eight of all deaths. By accelerating the transition to healthy renewable energy sources and continuing to scale up climate ambition over the coming years, we can protect millions of people from air pollution as well as the serious health impacts of climate change."

    Dr. Xavier Deau, Former-President of the World Medical Association: "We the physicians have the ethical duty to stand for the health of the population, so do all the politicians here in France today. We leave Paris with a strong public health agreement and are encouraged to see elements crucial to the protection of health central to the final agreement. Millions of physicians around the world have their eyes on Paris and are now looking forward and calling on their governments to get to work protecting the health of their populations."

    Mr José Luis Castro, Executive Director of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease: "The Paris Climate Agreement cements a decisive call for concerted action to reduce emissions which are toxic to human and planetary health. It is now the duty of the health community to work with others to ensure that these emissions are dramatically reduced “ to reduce exposure to leading NCD risk factors, limit global warming, and promote health for all."

    Ms Johanna Ralston, CEO of the World Heart Federation: "The adoption of the Paris Climate Agreement and its embedded references to health mean that NCDs and other health issues can no longer be side-lined in the global response to climate change. The NCD Alliance and its Federations are dedicated to ensuring a comprehensive response to create sustainable environments in which we can live, work and prosper."

    Ms Katie Dain, Executive Director, NCD Alliance: "The adoption of the Paris agreement is an unprecedented victory for people and planet, and a catalyst for the next phase of action. Now, all of government and all of society must come together in a coordinated response to mitigate the impacts of global warming, NCDs and ill-health."

    Professor Hugh Montgomery, Co-Chair of the Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change: "The impact of climate change on everything from food production to heat stress and water scarcity means it poses the single biggest threat to global health. This agreement is incredibly important for beginning to ease that health burden, ultimately saving lives. It will also set us on a path to a cleaner, less polluted world which in turn reduces costs for our healthcare systems."

    Dr. Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, Climate Change Lead, World Health Organization: "Every tonne of carbon that we put into the atmosphere turns up the planet's thermostat, and increases risks to health. The actions that we need to take to reduce climate change would also help clean up our air and our water, and save lives. To take a medical analogy: We already have good treatments available for climate change, but we are late in starting the course. The Paris Agreement helps us take this forward and is a crucial step in protecting our climate and our health."

    Dr. Bettina Menne, Climate Lead, WHO Europe: "As doctors, nurses, and other health professionals, it is our duty to safeguard the health of our families and communities. The Paris Agreement takes us one step closer to securing a future which protects the public from the impacts of climate change - the defining health issue of this century. Today, we are leaving France with a deal that bolsters community resilience, strengthens our health systems, and helps to tackle inequalities."

     

  • UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres calls for transformation of world economy

    Peter-Sainsbury-GCHA-Summit_COP21

     

    CAHA Vice President Dr Peter Sainsbury is in Paris attending many of the side events accompanying the UNFCCC COP21 global climate change talks. He shares some reflections here on the process, stimulated by a presentation by UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figures to one of these side events. "At the beginning of the second week of the COP21 negotiations in Paris, Executive Secretary of the UNFCC, Christiana Figueres, addressed a group of philanthropic funders. I was fortunate enough to be there and she was inspiring, but the message was also concerning. The whole speech, only 10 minutes, is available at http://youtu.be/vJOKGFZctPw I strongly encourage people to watch it.

    My summary, to whet your appetite, is: Ms Figueres began with some upbeat observations about progress in several domains over the last 12 months and then expressed her views that:

    · An agreement to tackle climate change would be nutted out over the next week, although it would be tough;

    · An agreement would probably be made about the direction of change but not the speed;

    · ˜a completely different economic development model' is required to effect the changes necessary;

    · Markets alone could achieve the change required but not quickly enough;

    · The science is clear that carbon emissions must peak by 2020 “ especially if we are to fulfil our moral duty to protect the most vulnerable communities;

    · We must focus our attention and help on developing countries “ they have increasing carbon emissions, increasing populations and increasing needs for infrastructure;

    · The energy needs of those without current access to electricity must be met with renewables “ but different finance models will be needed in different situations, for example for on-grid and off-grid communities;

    · We must find ways of working across not within silos, and for the long not the short term “ not easy for humans; The mantra is BAU: Business As Urgent.

    Why did I find all that concerning? Because while I am sure that we (the global we) understand the problem adequately and have sufficient technological solutions already available to us to keep global warming under 2C, I'm not sure that we have the social wherewithal (for instance common purpose and national and international institutions) to achieve the policy and technical changes necessary in the very short time we have left to prevent disaster. As others have observed: the laws of physics don't negotiate."

  • The health implications of energy choices in Australia

    CAHA Executive Director Fiona Armstrong was invited to speak at this high level health event held in Paris during COP21 - 'Health Professionals in Action on Healthy Energy and Climate' organised by Health and Environment Alliance Europe (HEAL) held at Conseil National de l'Ordre de Medecins (CNOM) on 4th December 2015. A transcript of her presentation appears below:

    Quote: "The health implications of energy policy decisions should be core business for public health professionals. Governments and policymakers are being influenced by industry incumbents to support the status quo; health professionals must highlight the direct and immediate harms to health from burning fossil fuels for electricity and transport, as well as the dramatic changes this causes to our global climate."

    Fiona Armstrong @ HEAL CNOM COP21 Healthy Energy

    "In Australia, it is estimated that the adverse health impacts from pollutants produced from coal fired electricity generation cost A$2.6 billion annually (likely a huge underestimate). The production?and combustion of petroleum and diesel for transport is a major source of air pollution that causes respiratory, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Air pollution results in 3000 premature deaths each year in Australia, and costs the nation up to $24.3 billion in health expenses every year. The DARA Climate Vulnerability Monitor estimated in 2012 the global costs to human health associated with the carbon intensive energy systems of the global economy is $540 billion each year, excluding health impacts resulting from climate change. If climate impacts on health are included, the total current cost to the global economy is estimated to be $1.2 trillion annually.

    • National action

    The Climate and Health Alliance has been leading an effort to focus the attention of health groups and policymakers on the health implications of energy choices since 2013. We convened a Roundtable of health leaders on this topic in 2013, including our Chief Medical Officer, representatives from public health, medical, and nursing organisations, as well as bureaucrats from health and energy departments, energy consultants and community advocates. We invited health sector stakeholders to consider their role in advocating for healthy energy choices, leading to the development of a Joint Statement as well as a comprehensive Position Paper and Background Paper on Health and Energy Choices (some copies are available here today and can be downloaded from the CAHA website).

    We also produced a film called the Human Cost of Power featuring public and environmental health experts discussing the risks to health from our current fossil based sources of power for electricity and transport as a public education tool. This year we turned our attention to the most carbon intensive region in Australia, the coal mining region of the Hunter Valley in NSW, in a report which documented the health impacts of the coal production cycle on local communities, and evaluated the economic costs associated with coal for local communities, for the regional and national economy and also to the global economy in terms of the contribution of Hunter Valley coal to global climate change. We have used these reports and the film to influence national and regional policy debates and have been successful in getting the issue on the political agenda in the case of the Hunter Valley report, with politicians from both major parties being publicly asked to respond to the report and its findings, and provoking a ferocious attack on the evidence we presented by the coal industry lobby group, who claims there was "absolutely no evidence" of harm to health from coal.

    Our calls for a moratorium on new coal are now being embraced by mainstream economic commentators, and the health impacts of coal now much more widely discussed in mainstream media. So far, there has been little response from national and state governments “ national energy policy documents remain delusional in the sense that they predict a strong future for coal and gas, and very often they ignore, and do not mention, climate change as an energy policy. From the community there has been a shift however, with a rapid increase in the take up of solar power, and adoption of energy efficiency measures, coupled with a carbon price, did lead to a drop in Australia's emissions a year or so ago. However the election of a Liberal-National Coalition government, with a climate sceptic as leader (only recently replaced), saw the removal of the carbon price and Australia's emissions are surging upwards again. Some of the responses from the NGO and third sector are more promising, with churches, universities, and superannuation companies pledging to limit their investments in coal. The Royal Australasian College of Physicians has pledged to divest from fossil fuels. Together with Doctors for the Environment Australia we will release a paper next year on the role of the health sector in divestment so we hope to see many more such announcements.

    • Lesson learnt:

    Casting energy policy as a health issue, and using it to draw attention to the health impacts of fossil fuel energy production, as well as being a climate change issue, has made the issue more accessible for some health professionals “ as they can appreciate the immediate, direct and local health impacts are an important issue for health professionals to intervene on. It helps to highlight the root causes and drivers of climate change as a point source health issue. This seems somewhat easier to grasp and to act on in some ways than the global impacts of climate change. The evidence shows that people care about their health “ and using this as framework for communicating the need for change in energy policy choices is something local communities and other advocates appreciate is powerful and effective in convincing many people (although not Australian politicians, yet) that burning fossil fuels is dangerous, outdated and there is no place for it in a healthy, sustainable, low carbon world."

  • CAHA at the Climate and Healthcare Conference, Paris, 4th December 2015

    Fiona Armstrong from the Climate and Health Alliance was a speaker at the Climate and Healthcare Conference, held during COP21, at Georges Pompidou Hospital, Paris, on 4 December 2015. The Conference was organised and hosted by Health Care Without Harm, the French Hospital Federation (FHF) and the French Federation of Private Non-profit Hospitals (FEHAP). Supporting Organization: Paris Hospital Associtaion (APHP). 15:50 “ 17:00 Panel 4: Governance and financing of the energy transition Moderator: Didier BOURDON, Assistance Publique Hopitaux de Paris (AP-HP), France

    • Sister Susan VICKERS, Vice President, Corporate Responsibility, Dignity Health, United States
    • Joe GRIFFIN, Head of Environment and Environmental Wellbeing at BUPA, United Kingdom
    • Fiona Armstrong, Executive Director, Climate and Health Alliance, Australia

    FA-Climate-Healthcare-Conf-Paris-2015                

    A transcript of Ms Armstrong's speech appears below: "Thank-you for the opportunity to talk on this topic.

    The governance and financing of the energy transition are both huge topics, and in some ways are quite different in terms of the approaches that are being undertaken to effect the transition, with very different actors in play and different constituencies being targeted.

    There are obvious shortcomings with both governance and financing, and I will speak briefly about our association, that is, the Climate and Health Alliance's, with both in Australia.

    This is more about governance and financing of energy more broadly, not just in the health sector.

    In Australia, our electricity production is primarily from coal, and the coal industry is both politically powerful and like the industry internationally, delusional about the future of their industry and their culpability when it come to global warming.

    The coal industry is seeking to expand, refusing to acknowledge that achieving anything remotely like a safe climate (ie limiting warming to 1.5 or two degrees) is incompatible with a future coal industry.

    Our governments in Australia are first rate cheerleaders for the fossil fuel industry, providing (according to a new report from Oil Change International) $5 billion in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry each year (some other reports put it at double this figure) (and like many high emitting nations, this is over 100 times more in subsidies to fossil fuel producers each year than $ to the Green Climate Fund) while enjoying the industry's donations to election campaigns, and state governments are seemingly addicted to the royalties paid by mining companies which they then use, somewhat ironically, to provide healthcare, education etcetera.

    We have been working with healthcare stakeholders in Australia to effect a discourse about the health implications of energy policy and encourage health organisations and advocates to see this as core business for health in the context of a ˜health-in-all-policies' approach.

    We have worked to highlight the economic costs associated health damages from continued production and combustion of coal and oil and gas for local communities as well as for the global community from climate change.

    One such effort is a recent study on coal and health in the Hunter Valley, in a report we called Lessons from One Valley for the World.

    The Hunter Valley is home, or was once, to some of the most picturesque landscapes in the country, in a fertile valley that made the region famous for fine wines and fast thoroughbreds.

    Both are now adversely affected by the creeping scourge of open cut coal mines, some of them eight kilometers long and several hundred meters deep.

    Also affected is the local community, whose health outcomes lag behind the state average, with children in the region more vulnerable to respiratory disease, adults more vulnerable to cardiorespiratory illness and many experiencing the mental and emotional health impacts associated with loss of the landscape, of farms and towns and villages as they are swallowed up by mines, the loss of friends, community, lifestyle, opportunities, and the attendant socio-economic impacts.

    The health costs associated with coal in the Hunter Valley has an adverse economic impact on the local economy (with $65 million pa in health harms in just two towns, Muswellbrook and Singleton, close to several mines, and through which the coal trains which stretch for kilometers pass; on the regional economy with a health cost of $200 million pa from the Valley's five coal fired stations; and on the global economy of $16-$66 billion pa from the social costs of carbon i.e.global damages from current coal production).

    The response of the government has been to insist that coal has a bright future, with members of the NSW Parliament holding what they called a Carnival of Coal in Parliament House one day in August this year (we eagerly anticipate a day in which they celebrate low carbon healthcare, or similar worthy initiatives!) while NSW Health bureaucrats have complained that our report has led to people contacting the department with concerns about their health.

    Heaven forbid that they respond with regulation to limit that harm! The coal lobby industry said, and I quote: "There's absolutely no evidence to support the claims made in this report." Well, unfortunately there is a substantial weight of evidence and none of it in the coal industry's favour.

    Just this week it has emerged that the industry and the state government in the Australian state of Qld are both implicated in covering up an emerging trend of increasing incidence of pneumoconiosis, or black lung disease, among coal miners in that state, echoing an international trend of increasing rates of the disease among young miners (ie around 40 years old) in the US.

    So there are governance issues to wrestle with, when democratically elected governments and their administrators are more influenced by industries peddling let's face it, profoundly dangerous products, than by health experts armed with scientific evidence.

    There isn't time to go into this now, but our efforts over the next few years are going to be more focused on mobilising health professionals are part of a wider social movement to demand accountability from our politicians and less about documenting and presenting the evidence for action, which we believe to be comprehensively addressed.

    To turn to financing for a moment, some of the more effective methods of shifting the financing of fossil fuels have been the divestment campaigns that are underway around the world encouraging (through public pressure and shaming, really), universities, churches, institutions, and government to stop investing in fossil fuels.

    I want to finish by talking briefly about policy, since this is a governance tool, and one through which we can effect change, if we can get governments to cooperate.

    We need this to happen at both a national, and local jurisdictional level, as well as internationally and the more we understand about what is happening, the more we can leverage the successes and work to close the gaps.

    Along with several of my colleagues in the audience, I have been involved in a global survey of national climate change and health policies “ figuring out what countries are doing to specifically respond to the risks posed to the health of their citizens by climate change.

    We had 35 respondent countries, and the survey revealed that most of them do not have comprehensive plans to protect health from climate change, most have done little or no work in evaluating health risks, and few were engaging the health sector in creating a climate resilient healthcare system or investing in research to understand vulnerable populations and infrastructure.

    This report from the World Federation of Public Health Associations recommends all countries develop a strategy to respond in the form of a national climate change and health plan.

    So I encourage you to look at this report, if your country is not represented, then complete the survey it contains to identify opportunities and gaps in your country and use it to advocate for a healthy response to climate change in your country, which includes the preparedness of the health sector, both mitigation and adaptation actions, and the engagement of health professionals in policy development.

    Additional to this work is a huge effort of advocacy for action at the local and regional level, as well as internationally, and this includes the recommendations for policy and action from health groups that are part of the Global Climate and Health Alliance (GCHA), of which our organisation is part.

    A new briefing paper, called Health and Climate in 2015 and Beyond, is available on the GCHA website and it calls for, among other things for:

     

    • each country to include an evaluation of health benefits and risks associated with emissions reductions their Intended Nationally Determined Commitments (INDCs)
    • to urgently phasing out coal from energy systems
    • phase out fossil fuel subsidies and use the funds to accelerate the transition to renewable energy

    So there is an important role for health professionals and health organisations, that is all of you, to intervene in this effort “ to advocate for the energy transition, to participate in the effort to shift the finances away from fossil fuels, and to be part of demanding accountability from your elected representatives to respond to this as an urgent health issue, for which there is a comprehensive evidence base, and to make sure there are political and electoral consequences that the health community is helping to lead, if they fail to respond."

  • Climate mitigation - the greatest public health opportunity of our time

    by Fiona Armstrong via The Conversation

     

    Cutting emissions will limit health damages and bring about important health improvements. Pedro Ribeiro Simes/Flickr, CC BY[/caption] Tackling climate change is the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century, a team of 60 international experts today declared in a special report for The Lancet medical journal. The 2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate report comes six years after the groundbreaking first Commission report “ a collaboration between The Lancet and University College London “ which described climate change as the "biggest global health threat of the 21st century". The latest report shows many mitigation and adaptation responses to climate change can directly reduce the burden of ill health, boost community resilience, and lessen poverty and inequity. In particular, switching to clean renewable energy sources, energy-efficient buildings and active transport options will reduce air pollution and have flow-on health benefits. This includes reducing rates of heart disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, mental illness and respiratory disease. The commission also reveals these health co-benefits associated with emissions reduction strategies offer extraordinary value for money. The financial savings associated with avoided ill-health and productivity gains can outstrip the costs of implementing emissions-reduction strategies “ if they are carefully designed.

    What if we wait?

    The commission makes it plain we cannot afford to wait. There are limits to the level and rate of warming humans and other species can adapt to. With "just" 0.85°C warming since the pre-industrial era, many predicted health threats around the world have become real. Long, intense heatwaves and other extreme weather events such as storms, floods, fires and drought are having direct health impacts. The impacts on ecosystems affects health indirectly, through agricultural losses, as well as contributing to spread of disease.

    Mitigation and adaptation responses to climate change can directly reduce the burden of ill health. Vaclav Volrab/Shutterstock Climate change is affecting economies and social structures, which also cause health impacts, particularly when associated with forced migration and conflict. Given the risks of climate change-induced "regional collapse, famine and war", the commission notes mitigation-focused investment "would seem to be the prudent priority at a global level".

    How does this affect Australians?

    Climate change is driving record temperatures in Australia, with heatwaves now hotter, longer and more frequent. People die from heat exposure during these events. Many others seek medical attention, leading to massive surges in demand for ambulances, emergency services, and health-care services. Deaths from heatwaves in Australian cities are expected to double in the next 40 years. Hotter summers are leading to more bush fires, which cause injuries and fatalities. People lose their homes and businesses. Communities lose schools and health care. After bush fires, communities also face a higher rate of general illness, increased in alcohol and drug abuse, and more mental illness. Extreme rainfall and cyclones cause direct fatalities and injuries. Floods and cyclones can severely affect health care services. In 2011, floods in Queensland caused the cancellation of 1,396 surgical cases, increasing waiting times for vital procedures by 73%. Rising temperatures are leading to increases in deadly foodborne illnesses, disruptions to food production and water security, and worsening air quality, increasing respiratory illnesses. Finally, infectious diseases are becoming more common, as are vector-borne diseases such as Ross River fever and zoonotic diseases, which are spread from animals to humans.

    What does the future hold?

    The report notes that since the first commission six years ago, emissions have risen beyond the "worst case scenario". Without mitigation, the authors warn "large-scale disruptions to the climate system" (not currently included in climate modelling and impact assessments) could "trigger a discontinuity in the long-term progression of humanity". In lay terms, they mean "wipe us out". At the very least, or at least put another way, the authors suggest likely temperature rises may be "incompatible with an organised global community".

    A prescription for action

    Cutting emissions, the commission says, will limit health damages, as well as bring important health improvements associated with improved air quality, increased mobility from better public transport, and better physical and mental health from greener spaces and more energy efficient homes. There is no need to wait. The commission says it is technically feasible to transition to low-carbon infrastructure now. The technologies have been available for at least 40 years, and some since the 19th century.

    The financial savings associated with avoided ill-health and productivity gains can outstrip the costs of implementing emissions-reduction strategies. TCDavis/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND There is potentially significant economic savings associated with the health benefits of climate policies. One study suggests savings from avoided ill-health arising from the implementation of an emissions trading scheme could return up to ten times the cost of implementation. Policies to achieve this must include carbon pricing, the commission argues “ either carbon taxes or emission trading schemes. Where these are not appropriate, it recommends taxes on energy products. Feed-in tariffs (for electricity fed back to the grid) should drive renewable energy deployment, while perverse subsidies to fossil fuels should be abolished. A key recommendation is the rapid phase out of coal “ part of "an early and decisive policy package" to target emissions from the transport, agriculture and energy sectors.

    Timing is everything

    In order to have a 66% likelihood of limiting global warming to less than 2°C, the remaining global carbon budget will be used up in the next 13 to 24 years. As all good health professionals know, treatment is of most value when it addresses the cause “ in this case, largely fossil fuels. Scaling of low-carbon technologies policy options is vital. The commission doesn't spell this out, but in order for global emissions to begin to fall, we must use our remaining carbon budget to make the switch to low-carbon technologies and resources. Doing so will create many new jobs, and help avoid expensive adaptation costs.

    Questions for Australia

    The Lancet commission makes a clear case for climate action based on health benefits alone. This raises important questions for the Australian government, which abolished the carbon price, wound back policies to support renewable energy, and committed to supporting coal as an energy source: Why is it failing to protect the health of Australians from this very serious threat? And why are the health benefits associated with climate policies not being factored into policy decisions, given the billions of dollars in savings for health budgets? Australians should themselves be asking these questions, but at least now we know the Commission will also be listening for the answers. Source: https://theconversation.com/climate-mitigation-the-greatest-public-health-opportunity-of-our-time-43549

  • Power, Money and Morals

    The following presentation was given at the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (Vic branch) Health and Environment Conference in March 2015 by CAHA Executive Director, Fiona Armstrong. Below is a transcript of her speech and the slides from the presentation:

    Power, money, and morals - threats to our life supports

    This afternoon I'm going to talk about power, money and morals “ as threats to our life support systems.

    I hope that resonates with you as nurses and midwives, and that in your roles as nurses and midwives you feel compelled to respond to the threat that power and money and morals (or a lack thereof) poses to the biosphere “ that is, the life support systems on which we and all other species depend.

    So I'm talking about power in the sense of energy (electricity or gas or oil) and power in the sense of political / corporate / societal power.

    When I talk about money, I'm talking about the finances that are invested in power (all forms of it) and support the current structures of power in all senses, and when I talk about morals, I'm talking about the values that underpin the struggle to save the biosphere and the failure of political, corporate and to be honest, civil society leaders as well, to assume the ethical responsibilities that come with leadership.

    In beginning with power, I'm going to name to the major villain “ by no means the only “ but the single biggest driver of climate change and as such, one of the greatest threat to the biosphere, coal.

    Coal has made a major contribution to the development of human civilisation, but its days are over and its pursuit as an energy source in the 21st century is dangerous and potentially suicidal for our species and akin to the murder of others.

    The case is very clear: we cannot burn coal in Australia anymore.

    We can't burn coal anymore if the world is to have a better than 50% chance of avoiding global warming of more than 2 degrees “ a level scientists say is itself not safe.

    Right now, we're on track for 4-6 degree rise in the lifetimes of our children “ both a level and a rate of temperature rise completely unprecedented during the period of human civilisation.

    A rise that is happening too fast for many species to adapt to.

    To stop the temperatures rise, we have to stop producing greenhouse gases.

    Not talk about it, not argue about it.

    Stop.

    We now know there is a limited amount of greenhouse gases that can be produced if we are avoid global warming going beyond a level that may lead to non-linear, exponential and irreversible warming.

    That's good “ we've got a number to work with.

    The global carbon budget (as it is known) tells us how many gigatonnes of CO2 we've got left before we push things too, too far.

    But given we've already gone too far, we need to be careful.

    And we need to decide who gets to produce those last few emissions.

    Should it be us, who have already contributed over the last 150 years to global warming, and produce almost 20 tonnes of CO2 per person per year? Should we get a bigger share than Brazil, who produce just 1/6 our emissions per person? Or India, who produce about two tonnes per person per year? Is it fair, to say we want to burn more than our fair share of coal? What right do we have to produce more emissions than other nations who are also seeking to develop their economies, lift their people out of poverty, and provide jobs? So that's one of the issues around morals, and ethics and fairness.

    Another is: what right do politicians have to ignore scientific evidence on climate change? Ethicist and lawyer Donald Brown from Widener University in the US wrote recently, "although ordinary individuals may have no duty to go beyond their own personal opinion about the science of climate change, government officials who have the power to enact policies that could prevent catastrophic harm to millions of people around the world may not as a matter of ethics justify their refusal to support policies to reduce the threat of climate change on the basis of their uninformed opinions on climate science." If your MP says "I don't support policies to prevent dangerous climate change" because "I don't believe climate change is occurring" or "I'm not sure climate change is human caused", this position is not only unscientific, its also unethical and unjustifiable.

    Elected members of the parliament have a responsibility to rely on evidence, not their own opinion when it comes to making decisions about policy.

    Particularly when those decisions, as they do when it comes to climate and energy policy, as Donald says, have the power to affect the health and lives of millions of people around the world.

    Why are politicians so persuaded by industry arguments that they might ignore the repeated warnings of scientists? Why, for example, did Tony Abbott say in October of last year that: "coal is good for humanity?" It was straight out of the coal industry songbook.

    As journalist Graham Readfearn wrote, those words would have had the champagne corks popping out of bottles in coal company boardrooms around the world.

    In the lead-up to the G20 in Brisbane last year, while esteemed health scientists were writing open letters in the pages of the Medical Journal of Australia imploring the Prime Minister to put climate change on the agenda of the G20, the coal industry was pouring money into a PR campaign called Advanced Energy for Life.

     This campaign was aimed at influencing world leaders to join the industry in a newfound passion for "fighting energy poverty". The world's biggest coal company, Peabody Energy, teamed up with the world's biggest PR company Burson-Marsteller, whose previous work includes trying to discredit the science around harm to health from tobacco. This campaign suggests that without access to coal, the developed world will forever be consigned to poverty. In an extraordinary display of hubris, and to be frank, lies, they even claim: "coal is key to human health and welfare, along with a clean environment."

    As well as funding PR campaigns to try and deflect attention from the harm caused by coal to human health and climate change, the fossil fuel energy sector has actively funded think tanks and so-called scientists to try and discredit the evidence around climate change, pretend that gas is a clean energy (it's not), and suggest renewable energy is not up to task.

    They have been busy offering political donations to secure policies that privilege their industries and acting to destroy the renewable energy sector that poses a threat to their profits.

    Climate denier scientist Willie Soon for example received 100% of his research grants between 2002 and 2010 from fossil fuel interests.

    Australian coal lobby groups the Minerals Council and the Coal Association were part of an industry alliance that spent $8 million lobbying against the carbon tax, because it would create a financial disincentive to pollute, precisely what it was intended to do.

    The ironically named New Hope coal company donated $700,000 to the Liberal National party in Qld just before the last election “ a move many consider to be a bid to secure approval for the expansion of their controversial New Acland coal near Toowoomba.

    It was approved just weeks before the Qld election, a mine that has already destroyed the village of Acland, caused considerable suffering for its last remaining resident, and over the lifetime of the mine, will cause many illnesses and deaths from the pollution it produces, and the global warming it will help accelerate (7.5Mtpa to 2029).

    Eleven people died last year when the disused Hazelwood coal mine caught fire in the hat of the summer, cloaking the town of Morwell in a thick toxic cloud of smoke and ash for more than a month.

    Coal causes million of dollars a year in health damages, and hundreds of billions of dollars in global damages.

    Our recent report Coal and Health in the Hunter: Lessons from One Valley for the World estimated that current coal production in the Hunter Valley is responsible for climate damages of between $16-66 billion per annum.

    Just days after our report was released it was revealed the NSW government was working with the industry to pave the way to approve an additional 16 open cut mines, to join the 30 odd already in operation, without health impact assessment, without community consultation, without any assessment of the global harm they would cause.

    So what is at stake here? What are these life support systems, how are they at risk, and who says so? In 1992, 1,700 of the world's leading scientists, including the majority of Nobel Laureates in the sciences, wrote an appeal entitled ˜World Scientists Warning to Humanity'.

    It said: "Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course.

    Human activities inflict harsh and often irreversible damage on the environment and on critical resources.

    If not checked, many of our current practices put at serious risk the future that we wish for human society and the plant and animal kingdoms, and may so alter the living world that it will be unable to sustain life in the manner that we know.

    Fundamental changes are urgent if we are to avoid the collision our present course will bring about." Last year, an international group of ecologists and biologists released their findings from a study which suggests we are now much closer to that collision.

    Stuart Pimm from Duke University said: "When you look at the range of unsustainable things that we are doing to the planet, changing the atmosphere, global warming, massively depleting fisheries, driving species to extinction, we realize that we have a decade or two." One of the consequences of failing to act is what climate scientist Michael Mann calls the procrastination penalty: "the longer we wait, the harder it will be".

    And it will be much more expensive.

    Mitigating climate change (that is cutting emissions, moving to a low carbon economy) now will be much cheaper than if we wait.

    But in terms of species loss, as they say, extinction is forever.

    So how do we respond, and where in the world are people and governments responding? Well, the good news is that the shift to the green economy is well underway.

    Industries based on green growth are now outperforming other asset classes and investments in extractive industries and fossil fuels are fast becoming a liability or worse, stranded assets.

    People, communities, cities, businesses, and some nations are responding.

    Energy producing, rather than energy consuming homes, are emerging.

    Zero carbon buildings, transport and energy systems are now possible.

    Local, chemical free, ethically produced and organic food systems are springing up.

    The health sector is responding “ over 10,000 hospitals and health services are now member of the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals network.

    Over ten health systems in Australia are now members, with over 40 major hospitals, and approximately 100 other health services, working together to reduce their carbon and environmental footprint.

    We also need to develop what the human ecologist Stephen Boyden describes as "biosensitive" societies, that is, a society which is sensitive to the biological needs of all living systems, and recognises their interdependence.

    The emphasis on "rewilding" in children's education, and exposing them more to nature is part of the effort to redevelop this.

    Educator and author Richard Heinberg from the Post Carbon Institute wrote recently about energy revolution that's underway.

    He says: "Industrial ecology, biomimicry, "cradle-to-cradle" manufacturing, local food, voluntary simplicity, permaculture, and green building are just a few of the strategies have emerged" that are part of the transition.

    Importantly many people are refusing to accept that the continuation of the current political failure is inevitable or acceptable; we are seeing increasing levels of political engagement across many sectors; people are organizing, speaking out, and taking action.

    Look at the powerful example of the Lock the Gate movement that has made coal seam gas a key election issue in NSW.

    Take my colleague Professor Colin Butler, an internationally respected public health researcher, contributor to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, who is so affronted by Australia's ludicrous, dangerous and irresponsible decisions about coal that he resorted to direct action and was arrested obstructing the efforts of Whitehaven coal to clear native threatened woodlands to develop a coal mine in the Leard Forest in NSW.

    Colin is practicing what he preaches “ he and I, along with Professor Peter Sainsbury, are the authors of a paper recently published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health in which we conclude, in the face of unbridled corporate power risking our collective future, where parliaments have become an evidence free zone, and politicians are for sale, civil disobedience is now necessary.

    It's not for everyone.

    But there is a role for everyone in reclaiming our democracy, for refusing to allow absurdly short term and ultimately self-destructive gains to be pursued when the costs are so great and the stakes are so high.

    I'm talking to all you here when I say: "Don't look the other way".

    Democracy, defending the future, and fighting injustice and greed is everyone's job, and it's particularly the job of people who are instinctively drawn to the caring professions, who care about fairness, equity and understand intergenerational responsibility.

    Slavery wasn't abolished, and women's rights didn't come about, by people waiting nicely for someone else to do the right thing.

    They had to be fought for.

    As members of a union, you are very well positioned to organise, and to confront these threats with collective power.

    If unions decided to make climate action an issue, governments would be unable to avoid acting to respond.

    As an organisation you can be part of building the social movement that demands political responses commensurate with the task at hand.

    A low carbon and healthy future is desirable, achievable with current technologies and budgets, in the timeframe that's necessary.

    And it's possible.

    But we'll have to fight for it.

    Let's make sure we can look our children and our grandchildren in the eye and say we didn't stand back.

    Or look the other way.

    Let's make their future safe, and pass on a world we are proud to say we fought to protect.

    Thank-you.

    Download slides: Power, money and morals- threats to our life support systems ANMF 20 March 2015

  • Are you going to stand back and let the coal industry determine our future? Or are you going to fight for it?

    Dear Friends and Colleagues, 

    As you know, the G20 Leaders Summit is on this weekend in Brisbane and world leaders are gathering to talk about issues ranging from development, employment, taxation, infrastructure, investment and trade. But not climate change. Meanwhile the coal industry is at the G20, working to secure greater subsidies and less regulation of their deadly product.

    Coal causes hundreds of thousands of premature deaths each year, largely from exposure to air pollution from coal fired power plants in developing nations. Leading climate and energy scientists from around the world say any further expansion of coal is incompatible with avoiding dangerous climate change. Coal must be quickly substituted for zero emission technologies, and the majority of fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground.

    However the Prime Minister Tony Abbott declared "coal is good for humanity" and "coal is essential for the prosperity of the world". The Qld Premier Campbell Newman recently claimed those opposing Australia's coal exports are "condemning people in China, but particularly in India, who live in poverty, condemning them to that poverty." He went on to say: "To take 1.3 billion people in India out of poverty is going to require significant energy, and coal particularly is what they're after." India doesn't want our coal This might come as something of a surprise to the people of India, wrote Indian energy policy analyst Shankar Sharma in an open letter to the Qld Premier last week: "This statement, if reported correctly, indicates to me that you did not have the benefit of effective briefing by your officers. Not only is it "highly irrational to assume that everyone in 1.3 billion is poor," writes Mr Sharma, but "it is surprising that it seems that you have not been briefed on the social and environmental aspects of burning large quantities of coal in a densely populated and resource constrained country like India."

    The Indian Energy Minister Piyush Goyal has just told the World Economic Forum they will be investing US$100bn in renewable energy in the next five years. Coal isn't the answer to energy access. Access to electricity for poor people in the developing world can be provided much more cheaply and cleanly with renewable energy, with none of the risks to health posed by fossil fuels, or the associated greenhouse gas emissions.

    The coal industry plan to expand, regardless of the damage they cause Coal industry leaders know their days are numbered. That's why they have engaged Burson-Marsteller, the PR company which handled the PR for the 1984 Union Carbide gas leak in Bhopal, India and formerly made a living spruiking the benefits of tobacco. Now they've helped Peabody Energy and others set up the Advanced Energy for Life campaign, aimed at influencing world leaders to help them "fight energy poverty" and suggesting that without access to coal, the developed world will forever be consigned to poverty. In an extraordinary display of hubris, they even claim "coal is key to human health and welfare, along with a clean environment."

    As they make plain in this video, their goal is to secure policy commitments from world leaders at the G20 that support the expansion of coal.

    We can't let this happen! As health and medical professionals, we can't just stand back and allow the coal industry to wreck the planet and cause the deaths of thousands of people in this callous and calculated pursuit of profit. The industry is on the attack “ just last week, when CAHA President and Australian National University climate and health researcher Dr Liz Hanna responded to the sobering findings of the latest IPCC report by pointing to the dangers of Australian coal exports, Minerals Council CEO Brendan Pearson responded by suggesting Dr Hanna was "unable to distinguish between ideological prejudice and scholarship"!

    What can you do? Write a letter to the editor or an opinion piece for publication in one of the major newspapers or online publications expressing your concerns about the unfettered expansion of coal in Australia and the risks it poses to people's health and the climate.

    Contact details: Courier Mail use this online form Brisbane Times use this online form The Australian [email protected] Sydney Morning Herald [email protected] The Age use this online form The Adelaide Advertiser use this online form The Canberra Times [email protected] The West Australian [email protected] The Hobart Mercury use this online form Northern Territory News use this online form Croakey (health blog at Crikey) [email protected] Climate Spectator [email protected] Renew Economy [email protected] The New Daily [email protected]

    Hit the airwaves ABC Radio Brisbane 1300 222 612 4BC 13 13 32 ABC Radio National 1300 225 576 Get cracking on social media

    • Twitter “ tweet the Premier @theqldpremier and let him know your thoughts on the matter (use these hash tags: #climate #coal #climate2014 #renewables #G20)
    • Facebook “ share these infographics here here and here and some of the links below

    Need more information? Here are some links to recent reports:

    Here are some useful newspaper articles:

    Here are some recent health / medical journal articles:

    Here are some resources on coal and health:

    More useful resources on http://endcoal.org/

  • Greening the Healthcare Sector Think Tank 14th Oct 2014

    Hosted by Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) and Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) in partnership with Global Green and Healthy Hospitals

     

    Event Title: ˜The Health Sector as a Leader in Low Carbon Transformation' When: Tuesday 14th October 2014 Where: Mater Hospital, South Brisbane Featuring case studies and experts on the following themes:

    • Building healthy and sustainable healthcare infrastructure
    • Waste not “ the transformation of disposal in healthcare
    • Engaging others “ making sustainability everyone's business
    • Building a national and global community for healthy, sustainable healthcare

    Opportunities to improve environmental sustainability in the healthcare sector are rapidly expanding. There are increasingly substantive economic drivers supporting a growing cohort of health and sustainability professionals in implementing strategies in their organisations for cutting carbon, reducing waste, minimising chemicals, and greening the supply chain. The Greening the Healthcare Sector Think Tank provides an opportunity for those working in the sector to hear first hand case studies of change, talk to experts, hear about opportunities for collaboration, and contribute to a discussion about how we can work together to accelerate progress within the health sector towards sustainable healthcare and hospital practices. This Think Tank will allow participants to hear from industry leaders and professionals and engage in discussions about strategies to improve environmental sustainability and population health while reducing pressure on health sector budgets. Building green healthcare facilities, engaging staff for institution-wide change, reducing waste and saving money will be some of the topics covered in this dynamic and interactive event.

    The Think Tank will be facilitated by leading sustainability educator and consultant Ian McBurney, and will feature snap shot presentations from professionals, followed by engaging and interactive discussions.

    Beamed in live from Washington state will be Nick Thorp, Global Community Manager of the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals network. Hear about this rapidly expanding network and the innovative platform that is enabling health and sustainability professionals to connect with one another around the world. If you are looking for tools and resources to support sustainability initiatives and want to know how to succeed through collaboration with others “ look no further! Download the program here. Register now! Click on this link to register.  

  • CAHA and Climate Council Joint Statement on Coal and Health

    Joint Statement on the Health Effects of Coal in Australia

    The Climate and Health Alliance and the Climate Council have released a Joint Statement on the Health Effects of Coal in Australia in response to the Inquiry report from Hazelwood coal mine fire in Victoria, saying: "Australia's heavy reliance on coal for electricity generation and massive coal industry expansion present significant risks to the health of communities, families and individuals."

    The Joint Statement calls for: health risks to be considered in all energy policy and investment decisions; independent air, water and soil quality monitoring at and around every coal mine and power station in Australia; and funding for research into health, social and environmental impacts of coal. The Joint Statement is accompanied by a Briefing Paper on Health Effects of Coal in Australia which outlines the scientific health and medical literature on the impacts on health from the production of coal. The Joint Statement is signed by Professor Fiona Stanley, Professor Tim Flannery from the Climate Council and Dr Liz Hanna, President of Climate and Health Alliance on behalf of CAHA's 27 member organisations.

    The Joint Statement reads: "We, the undersigned, accept the clear evidence that:
    1. coal mining and burning coal for electricity emits toxic and carcinogenic substances into our air, water and land;
    2. coal pollution is linked to the development of potentially fatal diseases and studies show severe health impacts on miners, workers and local communities;
    3. Australia's heavy reliance on coal for electricity generation and massive coal industry expansion present significant risks to the health of communities, families and individuals; and
    4. emissions from coal mine fires, like the recent Hazelwood mine fire in Victoria, and the release of heavy metal and organic compounds, pose health risks for surrounding populations, such as respiratory and heart disease, cancers and other health conditions.

     

    "We believe that Federal and State governments must urgently research and account for these risks to human health starting with consistent air, water and soil quality monitoring at and around every coal mine and power station in Australia.

    "We are calling on governments and industry to acknowledge the significant human health risks associated with the whole lifecycle of coal production “ mining, transportation, combustion and the disposal of waste “ and to urgently fund research and account for these risks in policy, planning and investment decisions in Australia.

    "While we recognise the role coal played in the industrial revolution “ as an important energy source helping advance economies and improve livelihoods “ studies now show that every phase of coal's lifecycle presents major human health risks and contributes to ecological degradation, loss of biodiversity and climate change.

    "In addition to the release of greenhouse gases, which are the primary cause of climate change, coal mining and electricity generation emit known toxic and carcinogenic substances into our air, water and land.

    These emissions include mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, nitrogen oxides and inhalable airborne particulates.

    "Authoritative studies in Europe and the United States show severe health impacts from coal emissions on miners, workers and local communities.

    These studies link coal pollution to the development of potentially fatal diseases, resulting in thousands of premature deaths and costing national economies tens to hundreds of billions of dollars every year.

    In the United States, the Physicians for Social Responsibility found that coal contributes to four of the five leading causes of mortality: heart disease, cancer, stroke and chronic respiratory diseases.

    Health risks are not limited to mining and combustion.

    Emissions from coal mine fires are linked to lung cancer, bronchitis, heart disease and other health conditions.

    At home, despite Australia's heavy reliance on coal for electricity generation “ it provides 75% of our electricity supply “ research and monitoring of the resulting health effects is limited.

    Most research has been conducted overseas, whereas in Australia - one of the world's leading producers, consumers and exporters of coal - the burden of disease remains under investigated.

    Furthermore, the disease burden will escalate as the massive coal industry expansion underway in Australia presents additional risk to human health in Australia and overseas.

    The significant health costs associated with coal are not currently reflected in the price of coal-fired electricity in Australia.

    In 2009, the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) estimated coal's health impacts cost taxpayers $2.6 billion every year.

    "A dire lack of monitoring and research in Australia is letting down coal mining communities." Recommendations:

    1. Coal's human health risks must be properly considered and accounted for in all energy and resources policy and investment decisions.

    2. We also encourage the investment in education and training opportunities to support coal mining communities to transition away from fossil fuel industries towards new industries.

    3. National standards for consistent air, water and soil quality monitoring at and around every coal mine and power station in Australia conducted by an independent body with no relationship to the coal industry.

    4. Adequate funding allocated for research to evaluate the health, social and environmental impacts of coal in coal mining communities.

    This joint statement is signed by Professor Tim Flannery, Professor Fiona Stanley, the Climate Council of Australia and the Climate and Health Alliance representing its 27 health organisations as members.

    Professor Tim Flannery, Chief Councillor, The Climate Council of Australia
     
    Professor Fiona Stanley, Distinguished Research Professor, School of Paediatrics and Child Health (SPACH), The University of Western Australia, a Vice-Chancellor's Fellow at the University of Melbourne and the Patron of the Telethon Kids Institute.    
       Dr. Liz Hanna, President of the Climate and Health Alliance  
  • Bit by bit

    Street based campaigning to engage people in climate action can be challenging, and sometimes campaigners wonder if it's worth it!

    People don't always want to engage directly, and for some members of the community, hearing about climate change is confronting and so they would rather not talk about it “ or even accept a flyer about a climate-related event. But every little interaction like this is a building block for further interaction and can help in providing an opening for those people to think more about the issue down the track. Here's what psychologist Dr Bronwyn Wauchope had to say to some campaigners handing out flyers for the National Day of Climate Action this Sunday: "Some people just aren't willing to accept it's a real problem, but don't underestimate those momentary interactions - it's about breaking it down for people bit by bit. Like building a house, we need to lay our foundations brick by brick. Over time this will build into a strong structure, one that people will see and want to replicate. It can be hard when people refuse to see this reality or refuse to care about nature or others, but let's not confuse that with how we feel - your efforts to engage and encourage others to stand up for this issue are admirable so be sure to congratulate yourselves! Plus it's more depressing to stand aside and do nothing, and you're protecting our own health and well-being by taking action. While those who declined may not give this another thought, just by having that brief interaction will increase the chance they will have a conversation later or fleetingly think about it when they see it on the TV or when a movie star speak about it. Over time those interactions will build up, and when they hear others in their circle express concern, they'll be more likely to share that concern."
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