Pages tagged "Uncategorized"

  • National Pollutant Inventory data released


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

  • Greening the Healthcare Sector Think Tank Report

    Report from Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) and Australian Healthcare and Hospitals (AHHA) Greening the Healthcare Sector Think Tank.


    The fourth annual Greening the Healthcare Sector Think Tank was held on 20th November 2015 at Western Health in Footscray, Melbourne. Western Health is the home of Sustainability Officer Cath O'Shea and Dr Forbes McGain who have contributed to the health service's leadership in implementing a comprehensive range of sustainability initiatives across several sites. Western Health is a member of the Pacific Region of the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals network, a project coordinated in Australia and New Zealand by the Climate and Health Alliance, with the support of Health Care Without Harm.

    The Think Tank was attended by over 40 health sector leaders, including health service executives, directors of nursing, professional medical and nursing / midwifery organisations, clinicians, sustainability officers, educators, health union representatives, and operations / facilities managers. A series of inspiring speakers in the morning was followed by an afternoon of stimulating discussion. Sessions and speakers included:

    • Paul Holman from Ambulance Victoria who had a clear message about the health impacts of climate change: heat kills.
    • Jane Carthey, Chair Australian Health Design Council, shared some stories of successes and challenges with regarding to embedding sustainability in healthcare design.
    • Patrick Tobin from Catholic Healthcare talked about the need for leadership from hospital executives.
    • Michele Burton, who is leading a program at Australian Conservation Foundation called Drivers for Sustainability; registered nurse Ros Morgan who is the new Sustainability Officer at Monash Health; nurse academic Patricia Schwertle from Monash University; and anaesthetist and intensive care physician Forbes McGain, ran a session on engaging for behaviour change for sustainability.
    • Peter Sainsbury introduced the session, describing the "roaring success" of experimenting with the workforce at South Western Sydney Local Health District (where he is Director of Population Health) in encouraging innovation and ideas.

    Participants were invited to pitch an idea to the group for a workshop, discussion, skill/share that they would offer to lead with a group. Three great pitches saw three energetic discussions convened:

    • Bronwyn Alymer from Barwon Health on reducing waste to landfill (Baron Health have reduced their waste to landfill by almost 40%).
    • Matt Power from St Vincent's Health on cutting energy use (St Vincent's Health Australia) are instituting an energy efficiency plan that will save the organisation millions of dollars annually and avoid the production of million of tonnes of carbon dioxide.
    • Aileen Thoms from Koowerup Regional Health, Libby Muir from Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (Vic branch) and Janet Roden from NSW Nurses and Midwives Association co-convened a group on engaging nurses and midwives in sustainability in healthcare initiatives. Given this huge workforce and multiple examples of leadership from nurses on sustainability initiatives, this discussion sought to explore how more nurses and midwives could be engaged and empowered to take action in their workplaces and communities.

    The outcomes from the meeting include:

    • the establishment of a working group on engaging nurses and midwives;
    • ideas for a Webinar on cutting energy use in health services,
    • and the establishment of a ˜googlegroup' for Think Tank attendees (those not already part of the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Connect platform) to stay in touch, share resources and ideas, and seek information.

    To be part of the #GreenHealth Google group, or to join the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals network, please contact Chris Hill, CAHA Sustainable Healthcare Project Officer [email protected] The full report with pictures from CAHA and AHHA Greening the Healthcare Sector Think Tank can be found here. To see how the day unfolded from the tweets you can see the storify page here.  

  • Our Climate is Our Health Seminar

    OCOH Header Image3                    

    On the 19th of November, 2015 the 'Our Climate is Our Health' seminar in Melbourne brought together CAHA members and broader healthcare sector stakeholders to learn from one another on advocating for action on climate change, to strengthen relationships and build understanding between health and environment groups, and to work towards developing a collaborative national strategy on climate change and health “ with the goal of getting policy outcomes within two years. A full report from Our Climate is Our Health Seminar can be found here. Here is a run down of each session and link to their presentations:

    OCOH Slide deck3

    Leadership from the health sector Five by five plus Q and A This session will involve five brief presentations on examples of leadership from the medical community

    • John Iser, Doctors for the Environment Australia.
    • Dr Karen Kiang, from RACP on climate advocacy and divestment.
    • Pip Carew, Australian Nurses and Midwives (ANMF) Vic branch; how they are engaging their membership on climate change;
    • Peter Tait on PHAA's climate and energy work;
    • Terrona Ramsay, Kooweerup Regional Health Services.

        An international perspective

    OCOH Slide deck4

    What to expect from the Paris climate talks.

    • Erwin Jackson, The Climate Institute. 'Climate change, human health and the sustainable development goals'
    • Peter Sainsbury, Climate and Health Alliance.

    OCOH Slide deck5

            Imagining 2030 as a healthy low carbon world: a thought experiment

    It's 2030, and the world is firmly on a path to low carbon economies and societies. Governments across the world have introduced low carbon policies for energy and transport, zero carbon homes and buildings are commonplace, and many individuals and businesses now generate their own energy from the sun and the wind. The health of people was a key factor in motivating this shift. The advisory panel present today will describe how this happened, outline how different things are from 2015, and offer insights into the healthy future that lies ahead. Part thought experiment, part Q&A, this panel of guest will interact with the audience to collaborate on ideas, consider evidence and dream alternative futures. Panellists included:

    • Grant Blashki, Nossal Institute
    • David Holmgren, Vision for energy descent
    • Susie Burke, Australian Psychological Society
    • Matthew Wright, Zero Emissions Australia
    • Monique Conheady, Chair of Moreland Energy Foundation, founded Flexicar

    To watch the video see here: Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 11.48.28 am                      

    Here is a snapshot of images from the day: 

  • Publications in 2014

    Joint Statement on Coal and Health

    The Climate and Health Alliance and the Climate Council released a Joint Statement on Coal and Health in response to the Inquiry report from Hazelwood coal mine fire in Victoria. 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 Coal and Health which outlines the scientific health and medical literature on the impacts on health from the production of coal

    Climate and Health: The Research, Policy & Advocacy Agenda

    This report captures the discussion at CAHA's national forum on the research, policy and advocacy agenda necessary to protect health from climate change in Australia, and around the world.

    Health Implications of Energy Policy

    This Briefing Paper outlines the implications for health and well-being from Australian and global energy policy.

    Our Uncashed Dividend: The Health Benefits of Climate Action

    This joint report from the Climate and Health Alliance and The Climate Institute outlines the evidence on the benefits for health from the implementation of strategies to cut greenhouse gas emission.  

  • Launch of landmark new research report

    Lancet Commission 2015

    The Lancet Commission on Health and Climate brings together more than 60 international experts as a new commission to respond to climate change, with the resulting research to be released at 00.01am GMT (9.00am AEST) on Tuesday 23rd June 2015. This report updates and builds on the groundbreaking UCL-Lancet Commission published in 2009 when climate change was first described as the biggest threat to global health of the 21st century".

    The 2015 Commission understands climate change as a ˜health emergency'. The Commission report includes research and evidence from five working groups, each tackling a particular part of the policy response to this crisis to deliver updates on the scale of the threat, and potential ways forward. With contributions from climate scientists, economists, energy and health professionals, the Commission report presents mitigation and adaptation policies necessary to protect human health from climate change and to promote sustainable development. A series of events are being held around the world to mark the release of this important new research.

    CAHA is involved in two events in Australia: .


    "Climate Change: the greatest health threat or opportunity?" Tuesday, 23 June 2015 - 6:00pm to 8:00pm - Melbourne, Groundfloor Auditorium, Peter Doherty Institute, Peter Doherty Institute, 792 Elizabeth St Melbourne. Speakers: Nobel Laureate Prof. Peter Doherty, Assoc Prof. Grant Blashki, Prof. Billie Giles-Corti  

    Image for Lancet launch Canberra

    "Bring me a solution, not a problem: a new Lancet Commission on Emergency Actions to Protect Human Health" Wednesday, 24th June 2014, 5.30 - 7.00pm - Canberra, Finkel Lecture Theatre John Curtin School of Medical Research, Building 131, Garran Rd, ANU. Speakers: Prof Archie Clements, Dr Liz Hanna, Prof Janette Lindesay, Prof Mark Howden, Prof Colin Butler, Dr Peter Tait  

  • Climate change: a great threat to health, but not as generally conceived

    by Professor Colin Butler via Croakey Prior to the 2009 Copenhagen climate change conference the Lancet published a 41 page article called "Managing the health effects of climate change". The text postulated that "climate change is potentially the biggest global health threat in the 21st century" but the executive summary was unambiguous: "Climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st century". Later this month, in the lead up to the Paris climate change summit, the Lancet is to again publish a major report on climate change and health. I had no role in either, though I edited a recent book on the subject. A WHO-led study found that in 2000 the burden of disease (BOD) of climate change caused about 5.5 million lost disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), mainly due to climate change-related undernutrition, with minor contributions from infectious diseases. This sounds significant, but was less than 0.4% of the global BOD in 2000.

    In contrast, HIV/AIDS, the leading cause of lost DALYs in the "baseline" scenario for 2030, contributes about 12% of the total “ or about 30 times as much as climate change in 2000. Climate change is a risk factor, not a disease, so it is likely to cause an increased BOD for several health conditions. However, each of those conditions (such as undernutrition) has several causes; attributing the fraction that climate change is responsible for is bound to be disputed. Tobacco smoke, closely followed by childhood underweight, was found to be the leading risk factors in an updated BOD study published in 2013, each causing about 8% of the total burden, or about 20 times as much as that of climate change in 2000. The claim that climate change will emerge as the greatest threat to global health this century is striking and surely calls for strong evidence, if to be taken seriously. But though some health workers do take it literally, my contention is that most don't. Outside health, even fewer do. I suggest several explanations.

    The first may lie with the Lancet paper itself. It is vague, repetitive, and in part overstated. At one point it comments "a 13-m rise [in sea level] would cause the flooding and permanent abandonment of almost all low-lying coastal and river urban areas. Currently, a third of the world's population lives within 60 miles of a shoreline and 13 of the world's 20 largest cities are located on a coast. More than a billion people could be displaced in environmental mass migration." That sounds plausible, except that neither the IPCC nor any other authority suggests any such extent of sea level rise is likely this century. Few if any peer reviewed articles suggest more than 2 metres of sea level rise this century is plausible. A perception of exaggeration may reduce the impact of this paper, contrary to the authors' intention.

    The Lancet paper identifies six main health effects from climate change: (1) changing patterns of disease and morbidity, (2) food, (3) water and sanitation, (4) shelter and human settlements, (5) extreme events, and (6) population and migration. However, no attempt is made to rigorously quantify the health effects for any of these. I can understand why, but this risks creating a perception of "hand waving". Another reason for the comparative lack of impact of this paper is that although its authors are consciously inter-disciplinary, the consensus in many other disciplines is far more conservative. This is exemplified by the issue of conflict. The possibility that climate change may contribute to violent climate was first raised in the health literature in 1989 (in a Lancet editorial), but has rarely surfaced since. A recent paper, by 26 leading gatekeepers to the political science literature confirmed the resistance of this discipline to this idea, although, outside political science, the idea is gaining more currency. The 2009 Lancet paper also reviews the literature at that time concerning food security and climate change. While not quantifying the risk, the message is consistently more downbeat than that of the IPCC reports, though the 2013 IPCC food chapter is less optimistic than its predecessors.

    If disciplinary specialists do not share the anxiety of the Lancet authors then why should generalists? There is another reason that neither health workers nor the wider community takes the Lancet paper's claim seriously: general incredulity. Conceding that our species is capable of critically undermining the environmental and social determinants that make civilisation possible appears to stretch our species' collective cognitive capacity. While many scientists (such as Will Steffen in this excellent recent lecture) and an increasing number of lay and business people (including Elon Musk) do understand this “ and are rightly apprehensive, about "business as usual" the understanding that most of the world's population has of climate science seems not much better than of evolution a century ago. Adding to this difficulty, of course, are powerful vested interests that deliberately confuse and cloud public understanding and, to an extent, inherent scientific conservatism.

    The final explanation I'd like to raise here is of causal attribution, also related to cognitive biases. The late Professor Tony McMichael coined the term "prisoners of the proximate" to encourage his epidemiological colleagues to think more deeply about cause. Of course, McMichael was not the first to do this; causal theory is as old as philosophy. However, despite this vintage, many people, including scientists, get stuck with their preconceptions, and many have trouble conceding not only that there may be additional causal factors, but that these may co-exist with, rather than supplant their current causal preference. This tension is obvious concerning conflict.

    Military theorists are happy to conceive climate change as a "risk multiplier" for conflict, but not (yet) political scientists. Climate change can indeed be conceptualised as the most important risk to health this century, but it is only one element in a risky milieu. Lowering the risk from climate change requires reducing the risk of many of its co-determinants of civilisation health. Among these, the most important factor may be complacency. Source:

    image source: WWF 

  • Leading climate and health academic faces court after coal protest


    MEDIA ALERT Wednesday 11 March: Professor Colin Butler, an internationally-respected expert on climate change and health (and a contributor to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)), will face court in Sydney tomorrow (Thursday 12 March) following his arrest for protesting coal exports from the Whitehaven Maules Creek coal mine in northern NSW. Professor Colin Butler is a Professor of Public Health at the University of Canberra and a Visiting Fellow at the National Centre of Epidemiology & Population Health at the Australian National University.

    "I have studied and taught the effects of climate change for 25 years and I know the danger it poses to our way of life," said Professor Butler. "But today, as the government continues to willfully ignore evidence and good sense, I believe it's important to take a stand."

    Professor Butler faces a possible two years in prison and a fine for his peaceful protest on November 26, 2014. Professor Butler will be available for comment after the court hearing tomorrow at Downing Centre Court, Liverpool St, Sydney on 0458 973 416 UPDATE: 12 March 2015 Professor Butler was not convicted of any criminal offence but was ordered to pay court costs with a two year good behaviour bond.

    He prepared the following statement in relation to his action, arrest, and court appearance: "In 2009, climate scientists wrote to Australian-based energy companies and banks warning the stability of the global climate system is at risk from the burning of enormous quantities of coal, which releases vast quantities of carbon dioxide, a gas which then accumulates in the atmosphere and ocean for decades. There is a direct relationship between these emissions and global mean temperature rise. Australian coal exports thus directly contribute to future temperature increases.

    My training and career have focused on health and the environment. My first scientific publication in 1991 argued that the stability of the global social system “ and thus health - is placed at risk by excessive climate change. I have recently edited a book with this argument at its core. For example, it is now increasingly understood that the Syrian war is partly related to climate change. Within a century, I believe unchecked climate change will cause economic and social upheaval on a scale scarcely imaginable. The world community needs to take decisive and rapid action to move to a clean energy future.

    Poor people in developing countries are most obviously at risk from this, but many Australians will also suffer, and not only from more severe storms, fires and droughts. Future Australians will also endure living in a world with much greater political instability, with more conflict and with more migration, unwanted by others. I believe my role in public health with unusual expertise concerning climate change gives a duty of care to people in the future. If I saw an infant left by mistake in a locked car on a hot day, I would have a duty of care to try to rescue her. If there was no time to find a police-person to help I would feel justified in breaking the law to rescue the child. In the case of these coming disruptions from climate change, I have written papers, edited a book, and given many talks to try to convey the great seriousness of my concerns, similar to this analogy. But this is not enough."

  • COP 20 Diary: Health Saturday

    Posted by Rosalind Simpson for Health Care Without Harm, December 8th, 2014 Health Care Without Harm Europe's Climate Policy and Membership Officer Kornelia Bagi - in Lima, Peru Health Saturday at COP 20 The third Global Climate and Health Summit took place on Saturday 6 December in downtown Lima as a side event to the UNFCCC negotiations.

    The event organised by the Global Climate and Health Alliance (a global coalition working to tackle climate change and to protect and promote public health, of which HCWH is a founding member) attracted about 300 participants who were interested to hear about the very complex threat that climate change poses to public health. Investing in health The event provided a good opportunity to discuss a wide range of issues from the impact of air pollution, the role of cities in combating climate and health problems and how the medical community can reduce its emissions.

    The healthcare sector has a long history of driving transformational change, for example in terms of mercury thermometers and blood pressure devices, and should play a leading role in combating climate change. One possible course of action is to divest from fossil fuels. We have seen a few good examples “ including the recent decision by the British Medical Association to end its investment in fossil fuels “ but there is still room for improvement.

    The first ever Global Divestment Day will take place on 13 February 2015. By joining this initiative the health sector would show leadership and also help raise the profile of divestment as a key tool in moving towards clean energy. Speaking of clean energy, the health sector has already come a long way in reducing its carbon footprint by investing in renewables and energy efficiency. If you would like to learn more about best practices from Germany and the UK, sign up for our upcoming (and free) webinar onClean Energy Strategies for Hospitals on December 17th.

    Educate and advocate As was reiterated during the meeting, climate change is not a scientific mystery; we know the extent, the effects, the courses and have a pretty good idea about what to expect in the next few decades. It is neither an economic matter nor a technology issue, but an educational challenge. Climate change action has a limited impact on economic growth but inaction will likely have severe consequences. And that's why the health sector has the moral obligation to act by educating the public and also by standing up to policy makers. And that's exactly what the future generation of health professionals have just done. During the conference a delegate from Brazil announced that they have suggested noting health co-benefits of mitigation policies in the draft text of the Ad-hoc Working Group on Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP), notably in Articles 30 (a) and 31 (d). The same text proposal was submitted by Australia and Canada.

    This subsequently received support from the US, Switzerland and Saudi Arabia as a result of the hard work of the delegation of theInternational Federation of Medical Students' Associations (IFMSA). As representatives of the global medical profession of the future, they advocate for the greater inclusion of health within the UNFCCC negotiations. Coming up next On Monday 8 December, health remains high on the agenda as the WHO side event on ˜Protecting Health, Fighting Climate Change' is to take place in the afternoon (Lima time). Check back tomorrow for another COP 20 Diary post with details on this event and other health-related developments in Lima. “ Kornelia Bagi, Climate Policy and Membership Officer, HCWH Europe

  • Health leaders call for concerted action on climate change at Lima Climate and Health Summit

    Climate and Health Summit: Investing in Health

    December 6th 2014 | Swissotel, Lima, Peru The Summit took place alongside COP-20 in central Lima - an occasion to showcase success stories, and coordinate action across all sectors to protect human health from the impacts of climate change. A line-up of highly engaging speakers, including experts from the World Bank, World Health Organization, and local public health groups at the front line of climate program implementation. For more information and a report on the summit, read The Global Climate and Health Alliance Press Release