Pages tagged "Ethics"

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



    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 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."

  • 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 and 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: 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."

  • How to make your conference carbon neutral (or even carbon negative)

    Australian Medical Students Association (AMSA) take some real climate action Henry West Embedded image permalink For many years the World Health Organisations (WHO) have made it clear that the health care sector should lead by example in terms of reducing climate change pollutants and by demonstrating how climate change mitigation can yield tangible, immediate health benefits. At the recent Australian Medical Student Association (AMSA) Global Health Conference (GHC) in Hobart the challenge this viewpoint presents to us was taken up with vigor. For the first time ever an AMSA event was completely carbon neutral and actually carbon negative. This was no minor undertaking, as the conference was very well attended with over 500 people present; nearly 200 tonnes of CO2 were offset. This was achieved via two internationally recognised projects coordinated by Climate Friendly, a large Australian carbon-offsetting firm. One of the projects in particular had immediate health benefits and was of particular satisfaction to the GHC organising committee. This project was a Cambodian one that actively replaces highly polluting indoor wood/charcoal fired cooking stoves with new far more efficient and clean ones, the New Lao Stove (NLS). The NLS was developed by GERES, an NGO ?that has been operating in the region for many years. More efficient than traditional stove models, the NLS uses 20-30% less fuel-wood and charcoal, thereby reducing CO2 emissions from cooking. This has immediate and dramatic health impacts for whole families, mostly regarding respiratory health, in conjunction with the large CO2 mitigation. For AMSA to be taking positive action in this way, by providing budgetary means for events to be offset and also personnel to ensure that reductions in impacts are made in the first place is a testament to their commitment to both global health and also playing their part in addressing the climate emergency we are facing. I encourage all to consider the impact of their own events in the health care sector, whether it is in management or simple attendance. Cleaning up our own backyard allows us to encourage and assist others to do the same. When we are in the business of health care contributing to what will likely be the greatest health threat of the 21st century is not acceptable. Embedded image permalink Henry West was the Environmental Officer for the AMSA 2013 GHC and is the 2013 Student Representative for Doctors for the Environment Australia in Tasmania. He is a student at UTAS.
  • Protecting children from climate change

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