The budget's black hole on health and climate change

Wednesday 09 May 2012

Where is the national strategy to protect our health from climate change? Where are the efforts to help health organisations transition to a low carbon sector? The budget failed to address these and other important health concerns around climate change, according to Fiona Armstrong, Convenor of the Climate and Health Alliance. There is an ongoing failure of the federal government and opposition to respond to the risks to health from climate change. We should be seeing commitments in this budget (and in proposals from the alternative government) to protect health by increasing investment in adaptation measures for vulnerable groups and resourcing organizations and groups that provide services to people who are vulnerable to health impacts from climate change. But adaptation by itself is nowhere near enough to protect health “ much greater attention must be given to mitigation “ there are many gains possible for health, in terms of improved population health, from strategies to reduce emissions. Cutting emissions should be considered one of our most important national public health strategies, with associated climate benefits accumulating in the long term, but from which the health benefits are direct and available immediately “ IF we choose to implement strategies to effectively cut emissions. We should be seeing a national strategy being developed to protect health from climate change, as well as investments in the health sector itself to transition to a low carbon sector, protecting healthcare budgets from future shocks associated with future energy price rises. A fiscally responsible strategy would be to help the sector realize its available energy efficiency gains and reduce its environmental footprint, such that the health sector itself becomes less of a risk to environmental health, and is able to weather the economic, environmental and social disruption that may lie ahead. This post first appeared on the online health blog, Croakey.