Pages tagged "Health policy"

  • 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."

     

  • 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  
  • Webinar on Health and Climate Change in Mongolia - The Policy Response

    Webinar with Tsetsegsaikhan Batmunkh from the Ministry of Health in Mongolia who will discuss the steps her country is taking to adapt and mitigate the health impacts of climate change. Monday 21st July 2014 at 12pm-1.00pm - Please note you will need a microphone and speakers to join using your computer, and need to download the Webex software in order to join. Join the webinar (please try and join about 5-10 minutes prior) Event number: 641 660 046 Event password: climate If you are unable to join using your computer, you can follow this link for information about using your phone to join the Webinar via audio Webinar program details: How is Mongolia responding to the health impacts of climate change?

    Mongolia's geographical position and climate situation, along with the traditional nomadic way of life make it very sensitive to climate change. The climate change impacts are obvious and affecting Mongolia in different ways. The annual mean temperature has increased by 2.14C during the last 70 years, while the precipitation has decreased.

    Recent research shows negative impacts on health, particularly for most vulnerable population, such as children, herders and aging population.

    About the presenter:

    Tsetsegsaikhan Batmunkh graduated from People's Friendship University in Russia as a medical doctor in 2001. She obtained a PhD degree in microbiology from People's Friendship University in 2005, and has just completed Master in Public Health/Health Management at UNSW, Australia.

    Her work experience includes:2004-2005 Embassy of Mongolia in Russian Federation; 2005 - Central Joint Laboratory of the State Inspection Agency; 2007-2013 Ministry of Health, Officer in charge of Environmental Health, local focal point for the WHO Environmental Health Programme. She is a Member of International Solid Waste Association and member of Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Network. Tsegi has published approximately 30 books and articles on environmental health in Mongolia.

  • Spreading the word

    CAHA has been out and about talking to students, health professional and the community about climate change. Check out some of these presentations here: The Art and Science of Policy Advocacy - Latrobe University May 2013 The Implications of Climate Change for Women - Australian Women's Health Conference 2013    
  • Australian Government puts forward submission on health to UNFCCC

    Getting policy traction: The 2012 Climate and Health Alliance report Our Uncashed Dividend produced in partnership with The Climate Institute has hit a chord with media, community, and policymakers. It was released in 2012 to widespread media coverage, has been the subject of many invited presentations, and has stimulated and informed the first ever submission from the Australian Government on health to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change process occurring in October 2012, written following a meeting with CAHA in August 2012. The submission by the Australian Government on health to the UNFCCC took the form of a submission to the Nairobi Working Party of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA). (The SBSTA is one of two permanent subsidiary bodies to the Convention established by the COP/CMP. It supports the work of the COP and the CMP through the provision of timely information and advice on scientific and technological matters as they relate to the Convention or its Kyoto Protocol. The Nairobi Work Program is set up to to assist all Parties to improve their understanding and assessment of impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change; and make informed decisions on actions and measures to respond to climate change on a sound scientific, technical and socio-economic basis). The Australian Government submission proposes that further work be undertaken to "understand the physical and psychological impacts of climate change on individual and community health" and suggesting that this work could "draw on the experience of health sector workers, as a useful resource in understanding and addressing the climate change impacts on health". The Australian Government submission is available here.

  • Greening the health sector: think tank report

    The Climate and Health Alliance and Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Assocations co-hosted a "Greening the Health Sector Policy Think Tank" in Sydney in August 2012. This event was attended by 52 enthusiastic participants from a range of health facilities, state departments and universities. We certainly achieved our aim of starting an important conversation about how hospitals and healthcare providers can reduce their own carbon footprints (mitigation), and in doing so how the Australian health system can be strengthened through the promotion of greater sustainability and environmental health. While hospitals have a big ''environmental footprint'', many are finding that sustainability measures benefit patients and the environment and offer financial savings. We also discussed the role of the health sector in building capacity to deal with the impact of climate change on health services (adaptation). A Policy Issues Brief on this topic was drafted for the AHHA's Institute, and circulated to registrants ahead of the PTT. Download the report from the Think Tank here. The keynote speaker was Professor Peter Orris from the USA, Senior Advisor from CAHA's international partner organisation, Health Care Without Harm. Professor Orris is the Director of the Occupational Health Service Institute and Global Chemicals Policy Program at the University of Illinois School of Public Health, a component of a WHO Collaborating Center. Dr Orris has served as advisor to WHO, PAHO, Federal, State and Local Governments, environmental organizations, labor unions and corporations. A series of Canberra-based meetings were organized with Peter in the two-days ahead of the PTT including with the Minister for Health and Ageing (Tanya Plibersek), the Minister for Climate Change's Chief of Staff (Allan Behm), Senators Richard Di Natale and Nick Xenophon and officers from the Departments of Health and Ageing and Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. Professor Orris also presented a seminar for the staff at the Department of Climate Change with about 50 attendees. Other speakers included:
    • Dr Kate Charlesworth, Public Health Registrar previously from the NHS Sustainable Development Unit
    • Mr Glen Hadfield, Manager, Asset Systems & Sustainability, Western Sydney Local Health District
    • Dr Forbes McGain, Anaesthetist and Intensive Care Physician, Western Health Footscray, Vic
    • Professor Tony Capon, Head of the Discipline of Public Health Faculty of Health University of Canberra
    The presentations from the Greening the Healthcare Sector Policy Think Tank are available here.
  • Do you have the Power to Persuade? A workshop on building knowledge and capacity for policy change

    By Fiona Armstrong How to translate research evidence into policy? What research methodologies offer the best results for social policy outcomes? How can researchers, policymakers and the third sector work together to deliver better results for people and communities? How do we create policy networks that can be adaptive, resilient and flexible enough to respond to the significant societal challenges we face? The Power to Persuade forum hosted by University of Melbourne and Good Shepherd on Wednesday 5th September 2012 brought together researchers, service providers, policymakers and policy advocates to discuss some of these questions to build a better collective understanding of the necessary elements of effective social policy outcomes. Transforming governance Keynote speaker Mark Considine acknowledged the need for transformational change in public policy development, and proposed the establishment of civil society governance networks, built on "deep partnerships" between institutions and other actors, and guided by judicial bureaucratic mandates, may provide a model for the kind of societal leadership that can fill the gaps currently created by the 'short termism' endemic in current political governance. Considine pointed to complex policy challenges such as climate change, food insecurity and people movement, suggesting that the capacity for transformational change needed to address these issues may not reside in existing institutions, and if we are to avoid disruption and upheaval triggered by environmental shock, new governance networks are needed. Building the sorts of partnerships required for adaptive resilient policy responses can begin through, for example, data sharing, pooled budgets and shared research, to build trust and common goals - and these smaller steps can lead to deeper ties over time that can better manage and respond to transformational change. Economics and policy decision-making Economist Alan Sheill spoke about the harsh realities of having to determine priorities in health and how economics can provide important insights about cost: benefit ratios to inform decision-making. While for health and welfare professionals, service providers and policymakers this is a challenging dimension of social policy, Shiell says: "we do not have enough resources (time, finances, space etc) to do everything we would wish to do to promote health and social well-being - therefore we need to choose". However, economic evidence is not always necessary, not does it always inform policy decision-making, Friell said, pointing out that very often, the public and politicians are not aware of the economic cost of political decisions. It was important for social policy advocates to use the rhetoric of economic costs to build support for actions, but recognize that economic analysis does not always reflect broader social benefits and there is a need to develop research methods that can incorporate less easily quantifiable health and social wellbeing gains from social policy initiatives. Methodologies and case studies Other speakers outlined case studies and research methodologies that offer powerful and effective examples of social policy innovation, such as J2SI, a long term program for homelessness. Damon Alexander shared some insights into the benefits of Social Network Analysis, a research method that is being used in multiple ways eg to map strategic information networks to evaluate innovation in government, look at information flows of strategic advice within primary care partnerships, and understand formal and informal relationships within organisations. Social network analysis was a powerful tool for understanding relationships between actors in a particular policy environment, and mapping "what" happens and "when" but not so much about "how" or "why"¦ Other case studies included great examples of participatory rights based methodologies from Karen Dowling from the Victorian Department of Education on ˜Listen 2 Learners'; and Leo Fieldgrass from the Brotherhood of St Lawrence on ˜Mobile Matters'. Final word John Falzon from St Vincent de Paul responded to this session, and spoke about the exceptionally important job of engaging with community and with people in developing social policy, finished with a poetic warning from Martin Luther King in saying: "A riot is at best the language of the unheard." Like all good modern events, the Twitter stream provided insight into people's thinking. You can search for some of the twitter stream on the forum by using the hash tag: #powertopersuade - a small sample is reproduced here: Dean Lombard?@vcossDean Evidence is important, but clearly not enough. Plenty evidence of the social harm of problem gambling; but still no change #powertopersuade Philip Wallis?@philipwallis Hearing from @KazzaD1 about using social media for student participation in policy development #powertopersuade   John Falzon?@JohnFalzon The question has been posed: who should we be trying to persuade? #powertopersuade #powertothepeople nyunkia tauss?@nyunkiatauss In effective system, all doors shd be the right door, whether it's for people in dire need or not. Great concept @vcossdean #powertopersuade Karen Dowling?@KazzaD1 Kathy Landvogt, Good Shepherd at #PowertoPersuade used SNA to look at effectivenss of financial services 4 ppl needing help.'No wrong door' GSY&FS Advocacy?@GoodAdvocacy How do you know you are making a difference? Using health economics to measure outcomes #powertopersuade Marie McInerney?@mariemcinerney Great insights into challenges and promise of Sacred Heart Mission's J2SI chronic homelessness research proj #powertopersuade - stay tuned. CAHA Inc?@healthy_climate Economist Alan Shiell: valuable health interventions via unexpected approaches eg reduce HIV through micro financing #powertopersuade

  • Crowdsourcing a new e-publication on climate and health

    CAHA's suggestion for a publication focused on the ˜health implications of climate change' was chosen from a pool of ideas for a workshop at the Melbourne Writers Festical last month. The idea was conceived by Melissa Sweet from the health blog Croakey who invited readers to submit ideas for new, health related online publications so that one could be selected for development at the New News Conference as part of the Melbourne Writers' Festival. Around thirty eager participants showed up for a high speed product development workshop dubbed "crowdsourcing a new publication". Workshop participants were asked to come up with strategies for community building, editorial, digital news and business development as well as next steps. After just one hour, we had a core idea: a publication/website that would to showcase the benefits of healthy sustainable societies through user generated content which was underpinned by scientific research and literature. A key message was that it should be about 'showing' not 'telling', and the content 'brains trust' advocated the creation of an appealing visual narrative - to help show what low carbon living IS, feels like, looks like, and in doing so, illustrate what the benefits are “ creating a pull rather than push factor. Read about some of the ideas generated and observer's thoughts on this fast moving workshop on Croakey and in a Melbourne Press Club report. CAHA's take on the outcome appears below in a brief overview of what a proposal for publication might look like: ****** Purpose/Aim of the publication To communicate climate change and global environmental issues in a public health frame that leads to changes in policy/influences policy Strategy To aggregate and connect community efforts to respond to climate change in a visible way through social media and digital platforms using stories, pictures, personal narratives and profiles Audience Various groups “ community, policymakers, media Groups with various levels of engagement with the issue “ the unsure, the confused, the early adopters Partners/Collaborators Others who are driving changes in community whether it is local initiatives such as a suburban food forest or transformation change through to national initiatives such as thought leadership and research on low carbon pathways Methods of Engagement Launch through social media and social networks Link to environmental and health groups Use various mediums to connect with various groups ie include blogs, research papers Need to approach from the point of view of "showing" not "telling" Opportunities and challenges The Big One: Capturing, modelling and communicating what healthy sustainable societies look like, feel like, are like! While there may be a range of different audiences requiring different strategies of engagement and messages/stories it may be possible to influence other groups ( ie policymakers through demonstration of community engagement) Building a community of interest around a personal connection to environmental change using a public health frame Provides an ability to interweave the evidence with community experience Using data journalism to demonstrate the cumulative impacts of individual action and sectoral change ie demonstrate the real life implications of policy ie Bill's compost achieves the following results for him, but what the implications of rolling out his approach to every household? Ie what are the economics involved in scaling up? What might the savings be - in emissions, and in financial terms? Challenges - How to connect with different audiences eg experts, policymakers, community, media? ********* Do you think you'd like to see this idea developed further? If you would like to be involved in taking this project forward, contact [email protected]

  • Transforming economics and governance for better health

    We're very excited about our upcoming workshop at the Population Health Congress in Adelaide on 9th September. We'll be really giving our brains a workout as we think about how to transform Australia, and society for that matter, to more sustainable, healthier ways of living. Sunday 9th September - Pre-conference Workshop, Population Health Congress, Adelaide Convention Centre This workshop will bring together some of the thinking that is emerging around the world that recognises that as a species, we are responsible for driving changes that are affecting global systems and our current systems of economics and governance are contributing to destructive practices that mean we are hitting up against ecological limits. What can we do about this? What contribution can health professionals make to reshaping our thinking about what it means to have healthy sustainable societies? What new systems are being envisaged and/or are emerging to respond to these challenges? Come and join us for a stimulating Sunday afternoon sesssion in Adelaide, from 1-4.30pm on the 9th of September 2012. PROGRAM 1.00pm Welcome to country, introduction to workshop “ Peter Tait 1.10pm Presentation: Transforming democracy “ Peter Tait 1.25pm Presentation: Reshaping economics for better health and sustainability “ Fiona Armstrong 1.40pm Presentation: The nuts and bolts of making things happen “ Bob Douglas 1.55pm Questions and discussion 2.10pm Break into small groups: What does this mean for me and my practice? 3.00pm Afternoon tea and networking 3.30pm Report back from groups 4.00pm Synthesise discussions, brief outline of workshop report, and next steps ABOUT THE PRESENTERS: Dr Peter Tait is a general practitioner who worked in Alice Springs for 20 years before relocating to Canberra in 2011. He is involved in clinical work, public health and teaching. He has had a long involvement in the environment and peace movements. He was RACGP General Practitioner of the Year in 2007. He recently completed a Masters of Climate Change at the Australian National University. Fiona Armstrong is a health professional, journalist, and climate and health policy expert. She is the founder and convenor of the Climate and Health Alliance, a Fellow of the Centre for Policy Development, and author of Our Uncashed Dividend: The Health Benefits of Climate Action and Shifting from Fear to Hope: Climate Policy Options for Australia. Emeritus Professor Bob Douglas is the former director of the National Centre for Population Health and Epidemiology at ANU. Following his retirement in 2001, he founded Australia 21 - a non-profit organisation developing research networks on issues of importance to Australia's future. Bob is the founder and chair of SEE-Change Inc which seeks to empower local communities to take action on climate change and their ecological footprint. He was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2000. Download the Workshop Flyer here (pdf) and download the Workshop Registration Form here. The Workshop Program is available here. The full program for the 2012 Population Health Congress is available here. This workshop is sponsored by the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) Ecology and Environment Special Interest Group (SIG).

  • Health ministers attacks on climate change action are just sick

    This article was published on The Conversation on 10 August 2012 via the following link: https://theconversation.edu.au/health-ministers-attacks-on-climate-change-action-are-just-sick-8671 By Stephan Lewandowsky and Fiona Armstrong The ACCC has been vigilant about following up the 45 or so carbon price gouging complaints it gets each day. But who can stop the politicians? Their relentless carbon price scare campaigns seek to frighten, rather than inform, an increasingly polarised public who should be getting the facts on health and climate change. Take, for example, the Liberal Health Minister in Victoria, David Davis. His recent contribution to the climate discussion was a leaflet for distribution across Melbourne's eastern suburbs which suggested that the "carbon tax will hurt patients". He said that hospitals will face a $13 million "tax bill" because "Julia Gillard doesn't care." In actual fact, there is no such tax bill. Even if electricity costs rose by $13 million, it would reflect less than 0.1% of total health expenditure. Given that the Commonwealth will be footing the bill for 50% of the cost of hospital care from 2014, the states can hardly claim the burden as their own. The most effective method of protecting the health sector against future price rises would be to invest in energy efficiency and distributed energy generation systems. This would help manage future price increases as well as reduce harmful air pollution from burning fossil fuels for electricity. Air pollution puts many people in hospitals with respiratory disease and cancer. Because of this, the previous Victorian government set aside $460 million to make public buildings, such as hospitals, more energy efficient and therefore healthier. Carbon pricing is in fact a health protection measure. The World Health Organisation, the World Medical Association, the CSIRO, the United Nations Human Development Program, and the Australian Medical Association all call, and have been calling for years, for a policy to discourage and reduce greenhouse gas emissions because of the harm they pose to human health. Motor vehicle pollution is a killer: moves to reduce it should be welcomed. According to the Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics, between 900 and 2,000 early deaths occur annually in Australia from motor-vehicle related air pollution alone. Coal-fired power generation carries a similar toll “ creating a health burden that, if reflected in the costs of electricity would effectively double the cost of coal-fired power. Mr Davis is Health Minister of a wealthy state in a developed nation. He cannot possibly claim to be unaware of the substantial body of evidence, present in thousands of peer reviewed scientific journals over several decades, that climate change poses far bigger risks to health than a small rise in energy prices “ especially when it is offset by generous subsidies to prevent those on low incomes from energy poverty. Indeed, the EU expects that a substantial proportion of the costs of emission reductions will be offset by co-benefits arising from improved health. And the cumulative health benefits are doubled if action is taken immediately, rather than delaying till 2015. The basis for Mr Davis's claims is a report commissioned by the Victorian Government. It was prepared by commercial consultant Sinclair Knight Merz and released to the Herald Sun, but otherwise not available publicly. According to the Herald Sun, it estimates an increase of $13 million in health care costs as a direct result of the carbon price. Mr Davis is not alone in making such claims; similar statements have been released by the NSW and Queensland governments. The Federal Shadow Health Minister Peter Dutton has attacked the (Labor) Tasmanian Premier for refusing to frighten her electorate with similar claims. These politicians have the job of preserving and safe-guarding public health. Instead of heeding the recommendations of every major medical body, those politicians see fit to attack a measure that is in their constituents' best interests. In addition to the direct harm to health from fossil fuels, climate change already claims 300,000 human lives annually. If not from science, where are Mr Davis and others getting their advice? Could it be from the Sunshine coast doctor responsible for the recent LNP motion to ban climate science from schools in Queensland, who thought he could disprove 150 years of physics in his back yard with two eskies and glad wrap? While the current legislation is hardly a sufficient effort to reduce emissions to the extent required, it is in line with widely accepted policy settings around the world and it is a first step in the right direction. What are the likely consequences of Mr Davis's claims and other egregious misrepresentations of the price on carbon? There is good reason to fear that those claims may be quite successful: we know that once a myth has been put into the public arena, it often resists any corrective effort, no matter how readily it can be debunked. Claims that arouse fear can be politically very effective, especially when combined with a seductively simple antidote “ getting rid of the carbon tax. The Australian media are notoriously incapable of differentiating fact from fiction, especially when it comes to the price on carbon. Indeed, we are not aware of any challenge to Mr. Davis's claims, and those of his colleagues, in the corporate media. George Orwell's "Ministry of Truth" has been enshrined into Western culture as a symbol for the chilling inversion of reality that results when facts become irrelevant and propaganda paramount. Victorians should be concerned that their "Ministry of Health" may likewise become known for opposing, rather than facilitating, public health measures that are aimed at managing the consequences of climate change.

    Authors

    Stephan Lewandowsky Australian Professorial Fellow, Cognitive Science Laboratories at University of Western Australia     Fiona Armstrong Convenor, Climate and Health Alliance

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