Pages tagged "Energy policy"

  • 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

  • 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  
  • Sydney screening: The Human Cost of Power

    The new short film, The Human Cost of Power, a project of the Climate and Health Alliance and Public Health Association of Australia, will be screened in Sydney on 20th November 2013. An event at the University of Notre Dame will be the first NSW screening of the film that explores the health and climate impacts of coal and gas. When: 6.00pm-7.30pm Wednesday 20th November 2013 Where: Lecture Theatre NDS14/201, University of Notre Dame, 160 Oxford St, Darlinghurst NSW. Download a campus map here.

  • Greening the healthcare sector: Policy Think Tank

    The second annual CAHA - AHHA think tank on sustainability on the health care sector was held in Melbourne on 30th August 2013.

    We heard from international speaker Dr Blair Sadler from the University of California and the successful Healthier Hospitals Initiative as well as local and interstate sustainable healthcare professionals sharing their experiences. Josh Karliner from Health Care Without Harm shared a innovative new communications platform that's connecting people working on greening the health sector initiatives worldwide! Check out this report via Croakey for a Twitter report of the day's events. Click here for Program details. Full report coming soon!
  • The Human Cost of Power

    Film Screening

    A new short film, 'The Human Cost of Power', produced by award winning science journalist, Alexandra de Blas will be previewed at a public forum in Melbourne on Wednesday 18th September 2013. The film, 'The Human Cost of Power' explores the health impacts associated with the massive expansion of coal and unconventional gas in Australia. The public forum will feature expert speakers including University of Melbourne researcher Dr Jeremy Moss, climate scientist Professor David Karoly, Friends of the Earth campaigner Cam Walker, and Dr Jacinta Morahan from Surf Coast Air Action. The Human Cost of Power is produced for the Climate and Health Alliance and the Public Health Association of Australia. The forum is supported by the Social Justice Initiative at the University of Melbourne. The public forum and film screening will be held from 6.00pm-7.30pm at the Laby Theatre, Room L108, Physics South Building 192, University of Melbourne on Wednesday 18th September 2013. Eventbrite - The Human Cost of Power For more information about the film, and CAHA's work on this topic, check out our Healthy Energy Projects page.
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