Pages tagged "environment"

  • National Pollutant Inventory data released

     

    New data highlights health and climate concerns as a result of toxic pollutants from gas and coal industries. CAHA Executive Director Fiona Armstrong comments on the data released by the National Pollutant Inventory in an article by Thom Mitchell for New Matilda: "What this data shows is that toxic pollutants that harm health are on the rise from both the coal and gas industries, with huge increases in particulate and chemical pollution". Read more here.

  • 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."

  • An overwhelming case for people to take to the streets for the sake of CLIMATE HEALTH

    Editor: Melissa Sweet Author: Grace FitzGerald (republished from Croakey Health Blog) Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 1.25.42 pm                    

     

    It's not yet summer, and soaring temperatures and bushfires, in Australia and elsewhere, are focussing attention on the health threats of climate change. Ahead of the United Nations climate conference (COP21) in Paris, the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a statement warning that climate change is already causing tens of thousands of deaths every year. These deaths are due to shifting patterns of disease from extreme weather events “ such as heat-waves and floods “ and from the degradation of air quality, food and water supplies, and sanitation, it says Thousands of People's Climate marches are planned around the world for November 28 and 29. While the French government has banned a street march planned for Paris in the wake of recent terror attacks, organisers say it is now even more important for people around the world to come out onto the streets for "the biggest global climate march in history" to protest "on behalf of those who can't". In Australia, the health sector is expected to be prominent at the marches, with the Royal Australasian College of Physicians among groups organising for members to take part. In the article below, medical student Grace FitzGerald explains why she will be joining the march in Melbourne. At the bottom of her article, please check the links to other recent climate news, including tweets from two climate health events this week. ***

    Climate change: A health threat that also presents enormous opportunities

    Grace FitzGerald writes:

    Grace

    The Met Hadley Office in the UK recently announced that global temperatures will this year exceed one degree Celsius of warming above pre-industrial levels for the first time. The significance of this landmark cannot be understated. In the words of some of Australia's leadingpublic health experts, "Beyond two degrees of warming, health impacts threaten to become increasingly unmanageable". There couldn't be a greater urgency for action to protect health and wellbeing from the devastating effects of climate change. The prestigious medical journal The Lancet has described climate change as "the greatest health threat of the 21st century".

    The evidence is irrefutable “ climate change poses unprecedented risks to human health and wellbeing. Taking strong action to protect our land, our water, our food and our communities is critical to protecting health and wellbeing of Australians and people around the globe. In the "land of drought and flooding plains", we are all too frequently reminded of the vulnerability of human health and wellbeing to the wrath of nature. Climate change in Australia is likely to contribute to increased deaths and injuries, particularly among children and the elderly, related to worsening heat waves and other extreme weather events.

    We are not unfamiliar with the fury of heatwaves, such as that which killed 374 Victorians in a single week of January 2009. As weather patterns change, we will face increased water scarcity and food insecurity from drought and floods. Climatic changes to date mean rainfall across south-eastern Australia is likely to decrease by up to 15% before 2030, regardless of whether greenhouse gas emissions are reduced.

    As temperatures rise and rainfall patterns change, there will be a spread of food, water, and mosquito-borne infectious diseases in Australia. By 2050, there will be between 205,000 and 335,000 new cases of bacterial gastroenteritis in Australia each year, and up to 870,000 cases by 2100. An additional 335,000 cases could result in $92.3 million in health and surveillance costs and 1.6 million lost workdays Those of us working in health services will be at the frontline of responding to this increased burden of disease. The increased demand on health and emergency services during extreme weather events is difficult to calculate, as extreme weather can aggravate pre-existing illness.

    However, the 2014 heatwaves in Victoria contributed to 203 heat-related deaths, a 20-fold increase in the number of ambulance call-outs, a four-fold increase in calls to nurses-on call and a four-fold increase in calls to locum doctors. The cost associated with damage to hospitals and health infrastructure from extreme weather events is likely to be immense. Indeed repairs to health facilities subsequent to the2011 Queensland floods cost taxpayers $18.1 million. The implications of climate change on the social, economic and environmental determinants of mental health cannot be ignored. In Australia, it has been estimated that the relative risk of suicide can increase by up to 15 percent for rural males aged 30-49 as the severity of drought increases.

    Much of the mental health burden is borne by individuals in under-serviced communities with limited access to appropriate support services. Cruelly illustrative of the social gradient of health, marginalised and disadvantaged groups in Australia will feel the effects of a changing climate most acutely and most severely. Rural and indigenous Australians, low-income individuals and families, and people with chronic diseases will be the first to experience the physiological implications of climate change http://www.climatecouncil.org.au/uploads/1bb6887d6f8cacd5d844fc30b0857931.pdf

    Climate change is a disease amplifier, and will exacerbate many of the health inequities that plague Australia today. Australia is fortunate to have more resilience to the challenges of a changing climate than many less-developed nations. However our island girt by sea will not be untouched by the suffering of others. As our neighbours in the Pacific Islands are threatened by rising sea levels, Australia will have to determine how to respond to an influx of climate refugees. The combined challenges of food an water insecurity and mass displacement are likely to pose significant national security threats.

    Heath opportunities

    Tackling climate change will dramatically improve human health. For example, particulate air pollution contributes to the deaths of up to 2,400 Australians every year “ more than the annual road toll.

    Indeed, pollution from coal combustion and motor-vehicles in Australia is estimated to carry health impact costs of $2.6 and $2.7 billion respectively per annum (see here and here). A move away from fossil-fuel combustion thus has resounding benefits for reducing the burden of disease in Australia. Action to prevent catastrophic climate change is no longer a question of technological or economic capability. Australia is well placed to achieve 100 percent of energy generation from renewable energy by 2050, and could do so without incurring massive adjustment costs or depressing economic growth.

    Transitioning to a renewable energy economy will drastically reduce the burden of respiratory disease, and provide tens of thousands of sustainable jobs in regional areas. Ensuring the efficiency and resilience of our agriculture systems will safeguard the access of all Australians to high quality, nutritious foods. Revolutionising our urban spaces to make them more bike and pedestrian friendly will drastically cut the burden of non-communicable diseases. Sincere commitments to greening our hospitals and healthcare systems, will minimize waste, maximize efficiency and enable our limited healthcare budget to be spent supporting our valuable workforce in their contributions to the community.

    The impetus for action is clear. The longer it takes for our government to commit to strong action to mitigate climate change, the larger the burden of disease in the community will be. As health professionals we have a duty to advocate for the health and wellbeing of our patients. Ours is a respected and valued voice in the community; the voice of evidence-based insight and of demonstrated compassion.

    A sincere commitment to the protect health and wellbeing of Australians requires a genuine, urgent effort to tackle climate change. As world leaders convene in Paris for the 21st Conference of Parties on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, communities around the world are mobilising in an unprecedented demonstration of the support for action on climate change. Around the world, the health and science sectors will join the People's Climate Marches to send a resounding message to decision makers that we are firmly committed the pursuit of a healthier future.

    Join us in Australia by RSVPing to peoplesclimate.org/#health, and joining your local march in the color white. ¢ Grace FitzGerald is a medical student at Monash University, and in 2015 co-project managed the Australian Medical Students' Association Code Green project. A "climate octopus", Grace has worked in a volunteer capacity with the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, Doctors for the Environment Australia, the Climate and Health Alliance, Healthy Futures and 350.org. Grace has been on the Victorian Organising Committee engaging the health sector in the People's Climate Marches.

  • Electronic networking does work!

    A report from the ˜Environmentally sustainable practice in hospitals and community settings' seminar 15 May 2015

    Janet Roden, Professional Officer in the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWN&MA), and Peter Sainsbury, Director of Population Health in South Western Sydney Local Health District, met in 2014 on a Global Green and Healthy Hospitals webinar organised by CAHA Convenor Fiona Armstrong. Out of that meeting the two of them organised an ˜Environmental Health Seminar' attended by 50 health professionals at Liverpool Hospital on 15 May 2015 “ a first in NSW for collaboration between a local health district and the NSWN&MA on environmental sustainability.

    The focus of the seminar was on environmentally sustainable practices in hospital and community settings and the 50 health professionals present heard a tremendous array of knowledgeable speakers, all of who have runs on the board promoting environmental sustainability in their own workplaces. Debbie Wilson, Sustainability Officer with the Counties Manukau District Health Board in New Zealand, focused in her keynote speech on outlining the activities of the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals network and the environmental initiatives they have introduced in Manukau.

    In the afternoon, Debbie talked about the identification and management of toxic chemicals in health services. Other speakers included Chris Hill talking about the initiatives taken to promote environmental sustainability at the Mater Hospital in Brisbane; Terrona Ramsay and Aileen Thomas describing the very innovative approaches adopted to make the small regional health service at Kooweerup in Victoria greener; Michelle Skrivanic and Alison Brannelly talking about the initiatives nurses can take in large hospitals, for instance reducing and separating waste in operating theatres; and Matt Power from St Vincent's Health Australia describing how health services can improve energy efficiency.

    And somewhere amongst all that we found time for lots discussion with the audience, much of it focussing on the practicalities of (and problems associated with) encouraging health services to become more environmentally sustainable. All in all, a very practical and enjoyable day ¦ and all because of professional speed dating. Click on the links below for podcast recordings of the presentations:

  • Health sector urged to engage with social media to promote climate action

    What does the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report mean for health in Australia? This post first appeared on the blog Croakey on 31 March 2014 A new report from the IPCC issues the world one of its most stark warnings on climate change to date. Leaked drafts suggest this report will be one of the IPCC's most stark warnings yet issued on climate change, especially as it relates to human health. Authors of the health chapter say the report chronicles serious impacts to human health and wellbeing already from climate change, and warn of our limited ability to adapt to rapidly increasing global temperatures. What is the IPCC and what does it report on? The IPCC is a scientific body under the auspices of the United Nations (UN) - 195 countries are members of the IPCC. Every four years, the IPCC releases a series of assessment reports on the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of climate change. Four Assessment Reports (AR1, AR2, AR3 and AR4) and part 1 of the Fifth Report (WGI or AR5) have been released to date. The AR5 WGI report covered the physical science and was released in September 2013. The second part (WGII) of the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) will be released this week. This IPCC Second Working Group report (WGII) covers the evidence on the impacts of climate change on humans and other species, the vulnerability of human society and other species and ecosystems to climate change, and on the adaptation measures underway or needed to minimise adverse impacts. The third working group report on mitigation (WGIII) will be released in Berlin in April 2014. This second report from Working Group II is an important one for health. What does the IPCC WGII report say about health? The findings of note from WGII include that climate change is affecting everyone in every nation on every continent, right now. Australia is particularly vulnerable to impacts on food production. The report highlights that people everywhere are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, especially extreme weather events which are now more frequent and more severe. Despite long standing warning on the need for mitigation (curbing emissions) and adaptation (responding to minimise the impacts of climate change), levels of adaptation to global warming around the world remain low. Some efforts by defence organisations, the tourism industry and insurance companies lead the way, but much more must be done. Failing to do so will put health further at risk, as it means we are not acting to avoid some potentially preventable impacts, like coastal flooding, heat stress from heatwaves, and the spread of disease. The report shows that failing to cut greenhouse gas emissions will lead to levels of warming that will make some parts of the world uninhabitable. However reducing emissions can cut the economic damage from climate change considerably. Further, the report shows that reducing emissions will bring many immediate and localised benefits to human health “ the savings from which would substantially offset the costs of reducing emissions. Health professionals are urged to act to raise awareness about the health risks from climate change and the health benefits of cutting emissions. Unless these issues are more widely understood, we risk failing to take actions that may ultimately determine whether or not we survive as a species, this profound, manmade, global threat to health. What can you do? You can help promote the issues raised in the IPCC report this week by joining a social media Thunderclap on climate and health. Follow the Climate and Health Alliance (Australia) on Twitter @healthy_climate) and our international group the Global Climate and Health Alliance on @GCHAlliance. Like our respective Facebook pages https://www.facebook.com/climateandhealthalliance and https://www.facebook.com/climateandhealth Have a look Climasphere for lots of resources about climate change and the IPCC report. Later this week, you can check out a short film, share some infographics and join a webinar on climate and health “ look for details here: http://www.climateandhealthalliance.org/ipcc Importantly however, please do as CAHA President Dr Liz Hanna urges in this press release: "Act at a global level, a national level, at state and community level and as individuals. We must do all we can to cut emissions and urge others to do so if we are to avoid putting health at greater risk," Dr Hanna said. "The reality is, cutting emissions will bring many immediate benefits for public health, as well as help limit climate change in the longer term. We can afford to do it, but we cannot afford to wait."

  • 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.

  • Green dialysis program in Geelong

    By CAHA Convenor, Fiona Armstrong "I had the pleasure of attending the September meeting of the Victorian Green Health Round Table Group this month and was inspired by some of the actions being taken within Victorian hospitals to reduce their environmental footprint and save resources. Individuals from around fifteen major hospital groups met at Barwon Health in Geelong to discuss current initiatives and to hear from Professor John Agar on the world leading green dialysis program run at Barwon Health. Professor Agar shared the success of the green dialysis program, and the Barwon team's contribution to starting the world's literature on eco-dialysis. There are now 30 publications in the health and medical literature about this program. The program began as a nocturnal dialysis program to allow patients to dialyse at home, however the excessive costs associated with water, power and waste that were then borne by patients forced a rethink about how to take a smarter approach to water use and re-use and sourcing cheaper power. The unit now provides the world's first solar powered dialysis system and recycles and reuses reject water from the reverse osmosis system. Patients are sent home with solar panels that cover all the energy requirements of the dialysis machine. A recent publication in Australian Health Review on the carbon footprint of dialysis outlines the carbon footprint of the unit and compares it to other hypothetical units in other states in order to predict the impact of local factors on emissions profiles. In the longer term the team hopes to have a purpose built facility that is eco friendly, eco responsive, and carbon light in order to deliver ecodialysis services to all patients." For more info, see www.greendialysis.org

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