Pages tagged "Mitigate"

  • 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."

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

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

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

    FA-Climate-Healthcare-Conf-Paris-2015                

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

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

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

  • Powerful alliances pushing for action on climate change, locally and globally

    by Mark Hayes via Croakey The threat to human health from climate change is so great that it could undermine many of the gains in development and global health of the last fifty years.

    And yet according to the report, actions to tackle climate change could be the greatest opportunity to improve global health.

    The initial 2009 Lancet report titled, Managing the health effects of climate change, labelled climate change as "the biggest global health threat of the 21st century".

    Climate change is known to impact on health directly through increased injuries and deaths from heat stress, floods, droughts, and storms.

    Beyond these, there are potentially greater indirect impacts: the spread of climate-sensitive infectious diseases; air pollution affecting respiratory diseases; food insecurity; nutritional problems; mass migration and conflict; and mental health.

    However, the momentous new release, to be marked by launch events all over the globe and starting in Melbourne, provides comprehensive new evidence that actions to mitigate and adapt to climate change have significant direct and indirect positive health benefits.

    Six years on from the 2009 report, the new multidisciplinary and international Commission draws on experts from a range of fields, including public health; climate science; geography; ecology; engineering; economics; political science; and public policy.

    They conclude that many mitigation and adaption responses to climate change are "no regrets policies" that are possible right now, and accrue health co-benefits.

    In particular, the report cites health and economic gains from reduced air pollution and transition to sustainable cities that promote healthy lifestyles.

    It recommends rapidly phasing out coal as part of an early and decisive policy package aimed at reducing the health burden of particulate matter and other air pollutants.

    Moreover, the development of energy efficient buildings; low cost active transport; and green urban spaces will not only clean up the air we breath, but will also reduce road traffic accidents, obesity, diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke.

    The report emphasises that achieving a decarbonised global economy, and the associated public health benefits, is no longer a technical or economic question, but rather it is now a political one.

    In the lead up to the pivotal UN climate negotiations in Paris this December this report calls for bold political commitment.

    Echoing this call for action are leading health and medical groups in Australia who have welcomed the new publication.

    The Nossal Institute for Global Health, Australian Medical Association (Victoria), Public Health Association of Australia (Victoria), the Australian Medical Students Association, the Climate and Health Alliance and the Melbourne Sustainable Societies Institute are cohosting a forum in Melbourne, with Nobel Laureate Professor Peter Doherty set to launch the publication in Australia.

    Australian National University, the Royal Australian College of Physicians, University of Western Australia, the Climate Council, and Adelaide University are all hosting events in the following days and months.

    With the Australian government expected to release its revised emission reduction targets in mid-July, time will soon tell if our leaders will hear the calls from health professionals.

    The solutions are available and effective.

    Health communities around the globe agree that we can, and must, act now to protect our health now and into the future.

    Source: http://blogs.crikey.com.au/croakey/2015/06/23/powerful-publishers-pushing-for-action-on-climate-change-locally-and-globally/

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

    by Fiona Armstrong via The Conversation

     

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

    What if we wait?

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

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

    How does this affect Australians?

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

    What does the future hold?

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

    A prescription for action

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

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

    Timing is everything

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

    Questions for Australia

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

  • Greening the Healthcare Sector Think Tank 14th Oct 2014

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

     

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

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

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

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

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

  • 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.

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