Media contact: Fiona Armstrong
18 May 2016
Climate and Health Alliance (Australia), Australian Health Promotion Association and Doctors Reform Society are among 82 organisations signing a Global Health Statement outlining the huge benefits to both human health and economies from shifting away from coal.
The groups in Australia are part of a global effort involving more than 300,000 doctors, nurses and public health professionals and advocates from 30 countries calling on G7 nations, meeting in Japan this month, to accelerate the transition away from coal to save lives.
Signatories to the Global Health Statement say all G7 countries need to speed their efforts to phase out coal to prevent the worst health effects of climate change. They say momentum is building among many G7 countries, but Australia is moving in the opposite direction, expanding coal and failing to support the transition to renewable energy.
4 May 2016
The Victorian Government’s promise to ramp up health services in the Latrobe Valley is yet more evidence that the mining and burning of coal hurts communities, the Climate and Health Alliance said.
The Victorian state government has announced it will spend $51.2 million in response to the inquiry into the 2014 Hazelwood mine fire, which revealed the event led to deaths and compromised the health of the community and emergency workers.
The Climate and Health Alliance’s Fiona Armstrong says it’s a welcome commitment.
“The Hazelwood Coal Mine Fire remains a sobering reminder of the dangers of coal mining and coal combustion for electricity. There are massive and an unacceptable risks associated with coal mining for communities and public health,” Ms Armstrong said.
28 April 2016
The health of all coal workers should be assessed and monitored as part of a comprehensive response to the Senate inquiry into the re-emergence of black lung disease in Queensland, the Climate and Health Alliance said today.
The Senate Select Committee for Health report into recent cases in Queensland found both industry and government failures, with inadequate regulation of workplace exposures, as well as poor health monitoring procedures for people and workers at risk.
Climate and Health Alliance Executive Director Fiona Armstrong said: “This report reveals a shocking truth about coal mining: that as well as being environmentally destructive, it can also be deadly for workers.”
17 April 2016
The Climate and Health Alliance and Doctors for the Environment, Australia have released a joint report: Investing in Health, on the case for health and medical professionals and health and medical organisations to divest from climate changing fossil fuel investments, and shift their financial resources to clean, healthy, low carbon investments.
Investing in Health is produced by leading advocacy groups the Climate and Health Alliance and Doctors for the Environment Australia, with a foreword by Laureate Professor Nicholas J Talley, President Royal Australasian College of Physicians.
CAHA Vice President Dr Peter Sainsbury said: “Health professionals and their representative organisations have led movements to divest from tobacco, weapons, and gambling industries – it’s now time for health leadership on divesting from fossil fuels.”
A new national assessment from the US federal government reveals serious risks to the health of the US population from climate change. CAHA released a statement in response to the report, highlighting the failure of the Australian government and in particular, the federal health portfolio, to exercise leadership in taking steps to protect the health of Australians from climate change.
The report The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment represents the combined efforts eight federal agencies, and over 100 experts, and provides an assessment on risks to health to US citizens. It forms part of a comprehensive response to the health impacts of climate change, led by the White House.
12 November 2015
A report from a global survey to evaluate how nations are responding to the health impacts of climate change shows Australia is well behind other industrialised nations in protecting its citizens from the major health risks associated with global warming.
The report from the World Federation of Public Health Associations (WFPHA) outlines responses from 35 countries in the first-ever global benchmarking survey of national climate and health policy.
The Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) led the project working group, which includes experts from the WFPHA Environment Working Group/University of Illinois Chicago, Public Health Association of Australia, University of NSW, University of Notre Dame, and Health Care Without Harm.
Project coordinator and CAHA Executive Director Fiona Armstrong said the report was an important foundation for strengthening national and global climate and health plans.
“There has been too little attention given in national policy efforts and in the international climate negotiations to the critical issue of how our changing climate is putting the health and wellbeing of people at risk. Despite a massive contribution by researchers to document these risks over several decades, policymakers have been very slow to turn this evidence into policy and program that reduce these threats to the health of citizens.”
The report reveals more than half respondent countries (51%) lack a national plan to adequately protect the health of their citizens from climate change impacts.
Unlike China, New Zealand, Russia, and the USA, Australia has no national strategy on climate change and health.
13 October 2015
A global health campaign launched today, Our Climate Our Health, insists health must be a priority issue in determining both the nature and scale of climate policies adopted by nations around the world, and reflected in the global climate agreements.
Climate change affects health in many ways, threatening food and water supplies, exacerbating extremes of temperature, and changing the spread of infectious diseases. If it continues at its current pace, the impacts will worsen, with rising sea levels and extreme weather leading to the loss of homes and livelihoods, mass migration, and civil conflict. These effects are unevenly distributed, with the worst of the impacts felt by those who have done the least to cause climate change: low- income countries and poor and marginalised populations globally.
Local campaign partner Climate and Health Alliance (Australia) is calling on the Turnbull government to raise its ambition on climate change, saying Australia should be cutting emissions “as fast as possible”.
CAHA will be calling on health professionals across Australia to join the call for action.
“Climate is already harming health, and in a worsening climate, the health burden will grow. As health professionals, we have a duty to our patients, communities and to future generations to call for strong and effective action on climate change to avoid unacceptable risks to health and wellbeing and community safety,” said Fiona Armstrong, Climate and Health Alliance Executive Director.
24 September 2015
News that Volkswagen and possibly other car manufacturers have deceived regulators about deadly diesel emissions is a timely wake-up call to Australian law-makers.
“Air pollution is an invisible killer that has been shown to cause more deaths in Australia than the annual road-toll, but Australian diesel engine emissions rules are many years behind Europe and the United States” said Dr Liz Hanna, President of the Climate and Health Alliance.
“The health damages from motor-vehicle related pollution in Australia in 2000 was shown to be $2.4 billion, now the figure would be much higher due to big rises in air pollution in that time” Dr Hanna said.
“Micro-particulates in diesel emissions were declared as a Class One Carcinogen by the World Health Organisation in June 2012, putting diesel emissions next to smoking as a cause of Cancer. There is no safe level of exposure to diesel emissions” said Dr Hanna.
24 July 2015
The ALP announcement that the party will take a policy to encourage a greater proportion of renewable energy to the next federal election has been welcomed by health groups.
The proposal for 50% of Australia’s energy supply to come from renewable energy by 2030 was potentially an important health initiative, Dr Liz Hanna, President of the Climate and Health Alliance said.
“Shifting to an energy system powered by wind and solar power will help reduce many of the health risks associated with coal and oil and gas, particularly in relation to largely invisible, but dangerous, air pollution,” Dr Hanna said.
22 June 2015
The threat to human health from climate change is so great that it could undermine the last fifty years of gains in development and global health, according to a major new Commission, published in The Lancet.
However, the landmark report, to be launched by Nobel Laureate Professor Peter Doherty in Melbourne on Tuesday, provides comprehensive new evidence showing responses to mitigate and adapt to climate change have significant direct and indirect positive health benefits – from reducing air pollution to improving diet – making concerted efforts to tackle climate change one of the greatest opportunities to improve global health this century.
4 May 2015
Australia’s post 2020 CO2 emissions reduction targets should cut emissions ‘as quickly as possible’, the Climate and Health Alliance has said in its submission to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet UNFCCC taskforce.
CAHA has set out a schedule for emissions cuts that would see Australia reach zero emissions in 2040, with a minimum target of:
- 20% reduction of 2000 CO2 levels by 2020;
- 40% by 2025;
- 60% by 2030;
- 80% by 2035; and
- negative net emissions by 2050.
However these should be seen as the “bare minimum”, CAHA Executive Director Fiona Armstrong said.
To achieve swift and effective reductions, CAHA is calling for a ban on all new coal mine licences, and for the immediate closure of seven of the oldest, most polluting coal fired power stations in the country.
10 April 2015
The leadership demonstrated by the Obama administration this week in announcing a series of measures on climate change and health is sorely needed in Australia, CAHA said today.
US President Barack Obama has committed to protecting the health of communities from climate change, with a comprehensive suite of new initiatives announced during US National Public Health Week.
“This long overdue recognition of the effect of climate change on communities by the Obama administration is welcome,” Dr Hanna said, “but highlights the vacant space for policy in this country. We have no national initiatives to protect health from climate change, nor any plans to develop any. There are no consistent efforts by policymakers to build resilience in the health care sector to ensure services continue to be available during extreme weather events, and very little research is being funded to evaluate climate impacts on health in Australia.”
“The people of Australia are being let down by governments failing to act on scientific evidence,” Dr Hanna said. “We urge the federal government to follow Obama’s lead, and stop ignoring these risks – we must act to protect the health of Australian communities, and manage these risks – this includes ensuring health services are there when we need them.”
2 April 2015
The massive increases in particle pollution from coal sources reported in the latest annual National Pollutant Inventory (NPI) report pose a serious threat to the health of communities, the Climate and Health Alliance, said today.
“The latest figures are sobering,” said Dr Liz Hanna, Climate and Health Alliance President, and Australian National University climate and health researcher.
“Our recent report on coal and health in the Hunter Valley shows there is a $600 million per annum health damages bill from coal fired power stations in the region. Air pollution from coal sources affecting the towns of Singleton and Muswellbrook causes health damages worth $65.3 million each year. The national costs are far higher.
“These costs are already staggering, and yet the new NPI figures reveal pollution is getting much worse.”
“It is concerning that we have yet another wind farm inquiry underway, when an industry that is causing demonstrable harm to health is not being investigated. We should have a national Inquiry into the health risks from coal in Australia.”
23 February 2015
The suggestion by the NSW Minerals Council today that there is no evidence of harm from coal pollution is ludicrous, the Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) said today.
“In fact there is a huge body of evidence in the peer reviewed scientific literature that shows the toll from coal on a broad range of negative health impacts, including from air pollution associated with coal dust and coal combustion and blasting,” said Fiona Armstrong, author of the Coal and Health in the Hunter report released by CAHA today.
23 February 2015
A comprehensive report, released today by a coalition of 28 key health organisations, highlights the serious threats to human health from the rapid expansion of the Hunter coal industry, calculates the burden of this health damage to the economy and, significantly, calls for a ban on new coal projects in the region and an orderly transition away from coal.
High profile figures including former Australians of the Year Professor Fiona Stanley and Professor Tim Flannery and former NASA scientist James Hansen, and 23 other academics and public health experts, have signed an open letter to the NSW Premier demanding the phasing out of coal production in the Hunter.
President of the Climate and Health Alliance, ANU academic Dr Liz Hanna, speaking outside NSW Parliament said, “Coal is responsible for harming the health of communities in the Hunter, and we know when our exported coal is burnt overseas, it contributes to illnesses and deaths. Other governments are moving to protect their health and their air quality. The Baird and Abbott governments have no authority to ignore Australian health risks by licensing new coal in NSW and pledging ongoing support for the coal industry.”
3 December 2014
A series of new video reports from the World Meteorological Organisation highlights the risks from extreme weather linked to rising greenhouse gas emissions – weather that is putting millions of lives at risk, health groups warned today.
“Every year, the WMO and our own Bureau of Meteorology data paints a more distressing picture of advancing climate change,” said Dr Liz Hanna, CAHA President and Australian National University heat researcher.
“Too many countries are ignoring the human catastrophe of climate change”.
14 November 2014
Prominent health organisations from across Australia today condemned Australia’s reliance on coal citing a growing, and significant body of research documenting severe health effects.
“It is clear, in this day and age, that we should be phasing out coal. It is highly polluting and is causing disastrous health impacts in communities across Australia. As health professionals it is our duty to highlight these health risks for Australians and suggest better alternatives,” Michael Moore, CEO of the Public Health Association of Australia said.
“As Australia’s largest health union, we are concerned about the serious threat the fossil fuel sector poses to the Australian community. It is time that Governments acknowledge the concerns of health and community stakeholders like the ANMF and work with us to find healthier, more sustainable forms of energy,” Lee Thomas, Secretary of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation said.
3 November 2014
The Climate and Health Alliance has responded to the recent release of the synthesis report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment by calling for the Australia government to “get its head out of the sand” and start acting responsibly by developing ambitious, effective emissions reductions policies.
“Just as prevention is better – and cheaper – than curing illnesses, cutting emissions to avoid further climate change will be much much cheaper than the costs we will incur from further warming,” Dr Liz Hanna
13 October 2014
Health professionals will meet at a forum this week to discuss moves by the health care sector towards a low carbon future.
Taking place in Brisbane on Tuesday 14th October, the third annual ‘Greening the Healthcare Sector’ policy think tank is jointly hosted by the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association and the Climate and Health Alliance, in partnership with the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals network.
The healthcare sector has a vital role to play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and associated environmental harm, said CAHA Convenor Fiona Armstrong.
“Healthcare can be a leading sector in low carbon transition which is part of a necessary response to climate change and unsustainable use of resources,” said Ms Armstrong. “Cutting waste and reducing energy use in healthcare can save on health spending as well as improve public health while supporting adaptation to a changing climate.”
24 September 2014
Australian health and medical leaders attending the UN Climate Summit in New York have criticised the Prime Minister Tony Abbott for refusing to attend the meeting.
Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) President Dr Liz Hanna, who is attending the invitation-only meeting in New York with colleagues Dr Peter Sainsbury and Dr Lynne Madden to represent CAHA’s 27 member groups, said Tony Abbott’s refusal to attend the Summit was “inexcusable”.
7 July 2014
As the new Senate meets to vote on the federal government’s proposed repeal of the carbon price legislation, health and medical groups have joined dozens of civil society organisations in condemning the move, saying a price on carbon is a “health protection measure”.
President of the Climate and Health Alliance, Dr Liz Hanna, said health and medical groups were united in their opposition to the carbon price repeal, saying climate change is having profoundly negative health impacts and a carbon price is a vital measure to limit the harm to health from climate change and drive the shift to cleaner renewable energy.
14 May 2014
The first federal budget from the Abbott government fails to set a course for a healthy prosperous and sustainable future, the Climate and Health Alliance says.
CAHA has voiced its alarm at the removal of important policies with health, social and environmental benefits in the 2014 federal budget, while corporate subsidies for polluting industries are retained or expanded.
“The real sources of wealth in a community are the health and wellbeing of people and the health of the natural systems that support human life. By walking away from climate action, and scrapping important environmental initiatives, this government is imposing enormous economic, social and environmental burdens on the community. These will compromise those that already suffer ill-health or are less well off, as well as impose unjustified and avoidable burdens on future generations.”
14 April 2014
The latest IPCC report points to the significant gains possible for improving health and wellbeing in the emerging low carbon world, the Climate and Health Alliance said on the release of the IPCC Working group III Report on Mitigation.
“This new report complements what the health and medical literature already suggests: when we account for the harm to health from the current carbon intensive economy, the transformation to a low-carbon society will deliver economic benefits that will outstrip the costs of transition,” said CAHA Convenor Fiona Armstrong.
“We can move to cleaner, healthier energy and transport systems, and create healthier living and working environments by moving away from fossil fuels – all of which will deliver immediate financial savings through the benefits to health, while the climate benefits will accumulate in the longer term.”
4 April 2014
The Climate and Health Alliance and its global counterparts, the Global Climate and Health Alliance, have issued a joint press release announcing the release of a GCHA Briefing Paper for health professionals on the IPCC WGII report, a video, info graphics, a social media ‘thunderclap’ and a set of online resources.
The global health groups, along with CAHA, call for Australian climate policy to be designed so as to maximise health benefits, and to ensure that the world achieves the sustained and rapid emissions reductions needed to avert dangerous climate change, which would be catastrophic for Australians’ health.
3 April 2014
Voters in Western Australia are urged to consider the climate as they cast their vote in the Senate election on April 5th.
CAHA President Dr Liz Hanna said the Senate election provided an opportunity for the WA community to support policies that will be effective in cutting emissions so Australia can contribute its fair share of this global task.
“West Australians are urged to consider their own health, that of their families, of the WA population, and the health and wellbeing around the world when they vote on Saturday. CAHA urges WA to vote for health and climate – for a safer healthier future for our nation, and for all nations around the world.”
31 March 2014
The risks of failing to act on climate change have been vastly underestimated by the world’s governments and the community, the Climate and Health Alliance said today in response to the release of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate (IPCC) report.
“Climate change is affecting people in every nation, on every continent, and it’s having an overwhelmingly negative impact on health,” Dr Liz Hanna, climate and health researcher and President of the Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) said.
The IPCC WGII report reveals that the world’s failure to act to curb emissions means it may no longer be possible to limit global warming to the target sought by many developing nations of 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures, making mitigation ever more urgent.
“This means we need to act at a global level, a national level, at state and community level and as individuals. We must do all we can to cut emissions and urge others to do so if we are to avoid putting health at greater risk,” Dr Hanna said. “We can afford to do it, but we cannot afford to wait.”
11 March 2014
The Climate and Health Alliance has called for a thorough investigation of the health risks from the coal mine fire in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley.
CAHA Convenor Fiona Armstrong said the community’s acute exposure to extraordinarily high levels of pollutants known to be harmful to human health should prompt a thorough investigation into the effects of the fire on the health of the local community.
“The community are entitled to know the nature and extent of health risks posed by this fire which has exposed the communities of Morwell, Traralgon and surrounding regions to air pollution containing toxins, including carcinogens, for over a month. In addition to standardised assessments of people presenting with symptoms of illness, a detailed study of the entire community should be undertaken to assess the short and long term effects on residents’ health from exposure to the coal mine fire,” Ms Armstrong said.
18 February 2014
The new report on heatwaves from Australia’s Climate Council reaffirms the serious and increasing health risks posed to the community by heatwaves, Dr Liz Hanna, researcher on heat and health at Australian National University, and Climate and Health Alliance President, said today.
“Heatwaves are now more frequent and more intense, and we are witnessing a dramatic increase in the number of near deaths and deaths from heatwaves over the last decade. Heat is also precipitating more heart attacks, kidney failure, and other health emergencies,” Dr Hanna said.
“The reality is, failing to commit to internationally credible emissions reductions in Australia is putting the health of Australians at risk. Acting on climate change is a vital and urgent public health initiative. It is simple: failure to act is killing people. The more we delay, the more people will die, and die unnecessarily,” Dr Hanna said.
31 January 2014
The Climate and Health Alliance has sounded the alarm on the Abbott government’s Direct Action Plan, saying the proposals fail to respond to the clear evidence and advice from climate scientists and health and medical experts on risk.
“The Direct Action Plan (DAP) will not reduce emissions at anywhere near the level required to reduce increasingly dangerous levels of global warming,” said CAHA Convenor, Fiona Armstrong.
At present, experts warn the DAP will not reduce emissions enough to meet the government’s target of a 5% reduction on 2000 levels by 2020 – a goal that is universally considered inadequate and is counter to the advice of the Australian Climate Change Authority, which advises 15-25% cuts to avoid Australia being forced to make “implausibly rapid cuts after 2020”.
15 November 2013
Participants at a Forum on Climate and Health have released a Joint Statement declaring climate change an issue of national and global significance – and called on the Australia Government to develop a national strategy to respond to the serious and increasing health risks from climate change.
The Forum, organized by the Climate and Health Alliance, heard from some of Australia’s leading health and medical researchers, policy experts and public health leaders, and led to the development of a Joint Statement signed by participants calling for individuals, organisations, communities, businesses and governments to shift investment away from fossil fuels, and for stronger action on climate change and greater investment in environmental protection.
The Joint Statement from participants at the Forum said: “climate change has the potential to cause significant loss of life,” and pointed to the burning of coal and gas as a significant contributor to both climate change and causing harm to the health of people in Australia and around the world right now.
The Joint Statement from the Forum can be found here.
13 November 2013
Australian film to carry climate message to Europe, while Government refuses to attend climate talks
While the Australian government has refused to send a Minister to the global climate talks this month, the Climate and Health Alliance film on climate, energy and health will feature in a session at the Global Climate and Health Summit being held in parallel with the United Nations global climate talks in Warsaw in November.
The Human Cost of Power, produced for the Climate and Health Alliance and the Public Health Association of Australia, will screen at the Summit on 16 November and has also been selected to screen, in competition, at the Think Forward Film Festival in Venice in December 2013.
30 September 2013
Health and medical experts have called for Australia to recommit to and to intensify efforts to reduce the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, as the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reveals greater certainty among the world scientists about climate change and its risks to communities, environment and economies.
This fifth IPCC report, one of the most comprehensive, authoritative and scrutinised reports on climate change ever written, identifies for the first time a maximum level for global carbon dioxide emissions that the world must not exceed if there is to be any chance of limiting global to below two degrees Celsius.
18 September 2013
Public health and environmental health experts share their concerns about the health impacts of coal and gas in a new short film released by the Climate and Health Alliance and Public Health Association of Australia today.
The Human Cost of Power features new interviews with four health and medical experts on the impacts of the coal and unconventional gas industries on human health and wellbeing.
These industries are undergoing a massive and rapid expansion in Australia and health experts warn the implications for the health of communities and climate change are not being taken into account.
Serious health concerns are highlighted in relation to pollutants associated with coal mining, coal fired power and exploration and mining of unconventional gas.
30 August 2013
Health and sustainability professionals will gather in Melbourne today for a policy think tank to discuss initiatives to promote environmental sustainability in healthcare around the world.
The second annual “Greening the Healthcare Sector’ Policy Think Tank is jointly hosted by the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association and the Climate and Health Alliance, with supporting partners Global Green and Healthy Hospitals and the Deeble Institute.
CAHA and AHHA said the major political parties had been silent on the relationships between climate change and health and the health system, while The Greens had acknowledged the important role that the health system can play in climate action, with The Greens Health policy including the establishment of a Health Sustainability Unit. Senator Richard di Natale will attend the Think Tank to present on ‘Sustainable healthcare through a political lens: challenges and opportunities’.
29 August 2013
The Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) has welcomed the announcement by the Katter Australia Party to support Australia’s Renewable Energy Target but urged all parties to strengthen their commitments on climate and energy policy.
“The renewable energy target has been the main driver of renewable energy in Australia over the last ten years. The dropping of a fixed carbon price by Labor and its abolition by the Coalition puts future renewables investment at risk, making a strong commitment to the Renewable Energy Target more important than ever,” Ms Armstrong said.
CAHA is urging all parties to match The Greens’ commitment of 90% by 2030 or aim even higher.
12 August 2013
The Greens are a clear leader in policies which address climate change and health, according to a scorecard released by the Climate and Health Alliance today.
The Climate and Health Alliance scored six political parties on their policies for climate change using the results of a survey on its key policy priorities: strong emissions reduction strategies to reduce risks to health from climate change, and developing a national plan to tackle climate change and health and wellbeing.
“There is a distinct lack of insight into the implications of climate change for the health and wellbeing of the population among most political parties,” said CAHA Convenor Fiona Armstrong.
“Absence of genuine emissions reduction commitments will lock us into a world of four degrees or more warming. This will be disastrous for human health and wellbeing,” said CAHA President Dr Liz Hanna.
5 August 2013
The Climate and Health Alliance is calling for strong action on climate change as the prescription for political parties looking for a winning formula in the upcoming federal election.
Leading experts such as Professor Tony McMichael from Australian National University have joined the call, saying climate change should be the key health issue in this election.
“Climate change and its threats to human health, survival and social stability should be at the top of the election agenda,” Professor McMichael said.
CAHA President Dr Liz Hanna said: “The health sector is already under pressure, and increasing heatwaves, fires, floods and storms will place even greater demand on frontline and community health services as people struggle with associated injuries, illnesses and trauma. The long recovery period from these events is often under estimated, as the toll upon human health and local economies linger for years.”
For more details about the Climate and Health Alliance policy platform, visit: http://caha.org.au/campaigns/federal-election-2013/
29 June 2013
The Climate and Health Alliance has expressed its support for the international efforts to “end the age of coal”.
Climate and Health Alliance Convenor Fiona Armstrong said the evidence was very clear: coal is one of the major drivers of climate change and burning coal kills hundreds of thousands of people each year.
“Australia is one of the world’s biggest exporters of coal. If proposed Australian coal exports go ahead, the emissions produced from burning this coal would push the global climate system into a danger zone. Climate scientists, the World Bank and the International Energy Agency all say we cannot continue to burn coal, and yet the industry and governments ignore these warnings.”
16 April 2013
Coal-fired power generation is putting million of lives at risk around the world, a new review of the scientific evidence has found.
The scientific literature review, conducted by environmental health experts at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), reveals pollutants generated from coal combustion have profound effects on the health of local communities but can also travel long distances, affecting communities remote from power plants.
Climate and Health Alliance Convenor Fiona Armstrong said the latest review provided further evidence of that coal-fired power must be phased out and tighter regulation of the industry was needed.
“Current energy policy does not account for the harm to human health that is being by the combustion of coal and fossil fuels for electricity generation and transport,” Ms Armstrong said.
4 March 2013
Australian’s lives are increasingly at risk from extreme weather being driven by climate change, the Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) has warned.
CAHA has responded to a new report from the Climate Commission, The Angry Summer, which shows the latest summer was the hottest ever, during which Australia recorded its first ever average maximum of 40.30°C, on 7 January 2013.
Heatwaves posed the most serious threat to health, but lives were also lost in recent bushfires and flooding following extreme rainfall, CAHA said.
The report shows the world is moving into a ‘new climate’, the consequences for which could be devastating for all people everywhere and for the natural systems on which we rely.
Read more here.
13 February 2013
The Climate and Health Alliance has helped to lead the establishment of a new collaborative network of health organisations that will work together to raise awareness of the adverse health effects of Australia’s current minerals and energy policy.
A statement from groups attending the Health and Energy Roundtable in Canberra this week signalled an intention to work together collaboratively to highlight the adverse health impacts and environmental damages associated with current minerals energy policy, particularly those relating to coal and coal seam gas.
“The risks to human health from energy and resources policy are not being well accounted for in current policy decisions,” the joint statement said.
“Significant policy reform is needed to ensure health and well-being is not compromised by policy decisions in other sectors. Recognising the importance of the social and environmental determinants of health is an important part of that.
The groups include the Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA), Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), , National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA), Climate Change Health Research Network (NCCARF-ARN), Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA), Cancer Council Australia, Heart Foundation, Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY), National Toxics Network (NTN), Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA), and New South Wales Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMA)
12 February 2013
Australia’s massive expansion of coal exports and surge in exploration for coal seam gas will be the topic of discussion at a Roundtable for health care leaders today in Canberra.
The Health Implications of Energy Policy Roundtable organised by key national health groups will hear from experts about the impacts on people’s health from the mining and burning of coal and coal seam gas exploration in particular.
Dr Liz Hanna, President of CAHA and Convenor of the Climate Change Adaptation Research Network for Human Health said: “Giving the green light to practices that have the potential to cause significant health problems and permanently damage our food and water supplies before a complete assessment of the magnitude of impacts is irresponsible.”
14 January 2013
The Climate and Health Alliance has joined forces with the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and the Climate Commission to issue a health alert in response to recent heatwaves.
Heat is the silent killer. Most Australians do not realise that heat is the leading cause of weather-related death. The three organisations are urging people to take care of themselves in these conditions, to be aware of the dangers of extreme heat, and encourage people to follow health and medical advice about how to stay cool as Australia enters another scorching heatwave.
Climate and Health Alliance President, Dr Liz Hanna, said there is no doubt that the heatwaves are posing serious risks to health, particularly among people who are unable to modify their exposure to the elements.
“Heat kills more Australians than the road toll each year,” Dr Hanna said.
3 December 2012
Health and medical groups in Australia joined international colleagues in calling for health to be central to the international climate talks this week, saying “human health is profoundly threatened by our global failure to halt emissions growth and curb climate change.”
The Climate and Health Alliance has joined the World Medical Association, the International Council of Nurses, Health Care Without Harm, OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate & Health Council, Umeå Center for Global Health Research, and many others in signing the Doha Declaration for Climate, Health and Wellbeing.
The Doha Declaration calls for health to be central to climate action, and highlights the opportunities to improve health through emissions reductions – pointing out that reducing fossil fuel consumption and moving to low carbon energy systems can deliver many benefits to health worldwide.
“The impact of climate change on health is one of the most significant measures of harm associated with our warming planet,” the Declaration says. “Protecting health is therefore one of the most important motivations for climate action.”
29 October 2012
The Climate and Health Alliance welcomed a new report from Sydney University highlighting the risks to health for people living and working in communities near coal mines and coal fired power stations.
CAHA Convenor Fiona Armstrong said the Health and Social Harms of Coal: Spotlight on the Hunter report was an important contribution to understanding the implications of energy and resources policy on human health.
“This report serves to highlight the risks to the health of communities living in proximity to coal mining and processing and coal fired power stations. Coal is harmful to human health at every stage of the production cycle, with people exposed to pollution and dust from coal mining at risk of developing serious diseases affecting their hearts, lungs, kidneys and nervous systems; while the pollution from burning coal to produce electricity poses cancer, respiratory and cardiovascular disease risks, and affects children’s intellectual development.”
5 October 2012
The Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) has reacted with alarm to the release of a summary paper of consultations for the Strategic Review of Health and Medical Research. CAHA said the national review, chaired by former Australian of the Year Simon McKeon, has failed to acknowledge one of the most significant threats to health and wellbeing: climate change.
“Climate change is widely acknowledged in the health and medical literature as one of the most significant threats to human health, and yet this “strategic review” of health and medical research is completely silent on the topic,” said CAHA Convenor, Fiona Armstrong.
“The failure of this national review of health and medical research to prioritise research into the impacts of climate change and the carbon intensive economy on human health is a shocking oversight,” Ms Armstrong said.
28 September 2012
A failure to act on climate change is costing the global economy $1.2 trillion annually and is responsible for 400,000 deaths each year, a new report commissioned by 20 governments has found.
The DARA 2012 Climate Vulnerability Monitor report entitled “Cold Calculus for a Hot Planet” said a continued pattern of the world’s current carbon intensive energy use would cause 6 million deaths a year by 2030, with 700,000 of these attributable to climate change; with the remainder directly related to the harm caused by carbon intensive economies.
No countries are immune from the risks, with “the world’s major economies in no way spared” from “enormous losses”, the report said.
CAHA Convenor Fiona Armstrong said: “The negative effects on health and the economy from carbon intensive systems are writ large in this report. [It] demonstrates the strong economic case for reducing emissions urgently and in a sustained manner to realise the benefits of a low carbon economy – to ensure economic security and protect health and wellbeing.”
22 August 2012
A new global network of hospitals and healthcare organisations working together to reduce the environmental footprint of the healthcare sector internationally has been launched in Sydney.
The Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Network was launched at a health policy forum on greening the health care sector held by the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association and the Climate and Health Alliance. This event was one of a rolling series of launches taking place around the world in 2012.
The Network was launched by Dr Peter Orris, Professor and Chief, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, University of Illinois, Senior Advisor to Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), the international partner of the Climate and Health Alliance, which has led the establishment of the Network.
AHHA CEO Prue Power said: “It’s time for the Australian health sector to think about how well prepared we are to deal with the impacts of climate change as well as take action to reduce the health sector’s carbon footprint. This is why the AHHA has joined the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Network, and we encourage all Australian health sector organisations to join.”
Climate and Health Alliance Convenor Fiona Armstrong said: “Many hospitals and healthcare settings engaging in these kinds of sustainability initiatives are finding they not only deliver environmental benefits but also provide financial savings as well as better patient outcomes and higher staff morale.”
14 August 2012
Actions that cut carbon pollution can improve Australians’ health and could save billions of dollars and thousands of lives each year, a new report finds.
Our Uncashed Dividend: The Health Benefits of Climate Action was jointly produced by the Climate and Health Alliance and The Climate Institute. The report is supported by the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA).
The report draws together a large and growing body of evidence from health and medical research showingsubstantial health benefits linked to measures to cut emissions.
“Evidence from around the world suggests we’re missing out if we don’t cash in on the big health dividend that cutting emissions can deliver,” report author and CAHA Convenor Fiona Armstrong said.
18 June 2012
The Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) and Climate Justice Programme (CJP) welcome the findings by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (AMCA) that 2GB breached the Commercial Radio Australia’s Codes of Practice and Guidelines by failing to use reasonable efforts to ensure that factual material was reasonably supportable as being accurate. The investigation was launched after CAHA and CJP, represented by the Environmental Defenders Office, made a joint complaint to ACMA in 2011.
“These statements were grossly inaccurate and contrary to clear scientific facts,” stated Keely Boom, Executive Officer of the CJP.
“The findings by ACMA demonstrate that the public are being mislead by some media commentators who refuse to accept the scientific evidence of climate change,” said Fiona Armstrong, Convener of CAHA.
“CAHA welcomes the findings of ACMA that substituting facts with opinion about the science of climate change in the interests of ‘hyperbolic gesture’ is in breach of the radio Codes of Practice.”
28 May 2012
The Climate and Health Alliance said the health and wellbeing of people in Australia and around the world was being put at risk by public subsidies to carbon intensive fossil fuels and must stop.
“Through our governments, Australian taxpayers provide almost $12 billion each year to subsidise fossil fuels – the same resources that cause untold harm to human health from air pollution and contribute to global changes that affect our weather patterns,” CAHA Convenor Fiona Armstrong said.
“In contrast, clean, renewable energy provides safer, healthier alternatives, and yet these energy sources, that offer Australia economic, social, environmental and health benefits, are not being subsidised to the same extent.”
20 March 2012
Australia’s energy policy is in need of intensive care, a national coalition of health care groups, the Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA), said today.
“Australia’s current energy policy poses serious risks to human health,” CAHA spokesperson Fiona Armstrong said.
A continued emphasis on coal and other fossil fuels in the Energy White Paper suggests the government is ignoring the clear evidence of harm to human health and the environment from mining, transportation and combustion of coal, oil and gas, Ms Armstrong said.
15 February 2012
“What is the link between climate change and obesity? Is urban planning to blame for chronic disease? How can psychology help us tackle climate change?”
All these questions and more will be debated in the forum ‘Why a Healthy Planet Means a Healthy You’ at the Melbourne Sustainable Living Festival on February 18.
Hosted by the Climate and Health Alliance, the forum will feature healthy neighborhoods expert, Dr Billie Giles-Corti from the University of Melbourne; psychologist and climate and disasters expert, Dr Susie Burke; public health researcher Dr Gary Sacks; and nature and health researcher Professor Mardie Townsend from Deakin University.
24 January 2012
The Climate and Health Alliance has released a Position Statement on health and wind turbines in response to claims that there are adverse health effects associated with human exposure to wind turbines.
Developed by the organisation’s scientific advisory group on behalf of the members of the Alliance, the Position Statement underscores the fact that renewable energy generation such as wind power provides a safe and healthy alternative to fossil fuels.
“There is no credible peer reviewed scientific evidence that demonstrates a link between wind turbines and direct adverse health impacts in people living in proximity to them,” CAHA Convenor Fiona Armstrong said.
30 November 2011
The Climate and Health Alliance has welcomed the Climate Commission report released today, The Critical Decade: Climate change and health, saying the links between human health and climate change are currently being overlooked in discussions about climate policy.
“This report is a welcome contribution to help build community understanding about the human impacts of climate change,” said Fiona Armstrong, CAHA Convenor.
“There are many positive and significant health gains to be made from strategies to reduce emissions that will have immediate and direct benefits for people’s health. The Climate and Health Alliance urges the Australian community, business and policymakers to support strong emissions reduction targets for Australia so we can realise the benefits this will bring for health.”
29 November 2011
Australian health sector representatives will join the biggest ever delegation of international health leaders to attend the UN global climate talks in Durban this week where delegates will call for human health to be a core element of the global discussions.
The Climate and Health Alliance will partner in next week’s Global Climate and Health Summit being held in parallel with the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) in an effort to raise the profile of public health in the global negotiations on climate change.
“We join with our international colleagues in calling on all parties to put health at the heart of the climate change negotiations, and for nations to act decisively to reduce emissions to protect and promote public health in all nations,” said CAHA Convenor Fiona Armstrong.
28 November 2011
The Climate and Health Alliance has expressed its disappointment with the draft plan for the Murray Darling Basin released today.
“This draft plan will not ensure a healthy sustainable river system into the future,” CAHA Convenor Fiona Armstrong said.
“A collective failure in the past to prevent over-extraction in the nation’s rivers has led to collapsing river ecosystems. The development of this plan provides an opportunity to reverse this decline – however it appears the Murray Darling Basin Authority have chosen not to do so by ignoring the scientific evidence on what will constitute sufficient environmental flows to restore the Basin’s health.
1 September 2011
The Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) has spoken out in support of community concerns regarding the environmental and health effects of new coal mines being proposed in Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales.
“Coal is a health hazard,” Fiona Armstrong, CAHA Convenor said. “There is long standing and well established evidence that the mining, transportation, and combustion of coal are all extremely hazardous to human health.”
Research from Europe published in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet estimates that 24 people die for every TWh of coal combusted, from the harmful effects of the airborne particulates, nitrogen oxide, and toxic metals such as mercury and lead released.
“The reality is – coal kills,” Ms Armstrong said. “In addition, the mining of coal exposes workers and local communities to dangerous coal dust, and it is a dangerous occupation in terms of health and safety.”
“There is no doubt that the mining of coal leads to otherwise avoidable deaths, and these deaths increase according to the amount of coal mined and the amount burned for energy generation,” Ms Armstrong said.
 Markandya, A., and Wilkinson, P. Energy and Health 2: Electricity generation and health, The Lancet, Sep 15-Sep 21, 2007; 370, 9591.
27 August 2011
The Climate and Health Alliance is calling on the Victorian Premier, Ted Baillieu, to honour his committment to a 20% by 2020 emissions reduction target for Victoria.
The Climate and Health Alliance said the target was an important commitment, given Victoria’s very high per capita emissions, and must not be abandoned.
CAHA also said strategies to reduce emissions in Victoria would also bring important public health benefits and should be implemented to achieve a dual purpose – reducing climate risk and improving health.
“There are very significant health benefits available by moving away from fossil fuels,” Ms Armstrong said.
23 August 2011
The health of communities in the Murray Darling Basin depends upon a sustainable and scientifically based approach to the restoration of environmental flows to the basin, the Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) said today.
“The current debate around water in the Murray Darling has failed to consider the human health implications of a failing river system,” CAHA Convenor Fiona Armstrong said.
The coalition of more than twenty health organisations will join other groups and communities in Canberra today as part of the Voices for the Murray Darling alliance who are calling for the restoration of environmental flows that are based on credible science.
“Restoring the health of the Murray Darling will require changes in the use of water. As health groups, we want to see communities assisted to adapt to sustainable water use, and a process undertaken to support the establishment of secure economic futures for affected communities,” Ms Armstrong said.
25 July 2011
The national coalition of health groups, the Climate and Health Alliance, has said comments by the opposition leader Tony Abbott printed today in the Murdoch paper, The Australian, that the carbon tax will be bad for health were misleading and wrong.
“Mr Abbott’s suggestions that the carbon price will affect chemist opening hours and negatively affect health is a spurious connection which does not appear to have any foundation and it completely ignores the fact that many people with chronic illnesses who are dependent on medications are the most vulnerable to the effects of heatwaves, which are more frequent and more severe from climate change,” said Fiona Armstrong, CAHA Convenor.
The Climate and Health Alliance urges the Opposition leader to stop his campaign against the carbon tax for the sake of Australians’ health.
“Medical and health professionals around the world are calling for urgent action to reduce emissions to protect and promote public health. Continued delay in reducing emissions puts more lives at risk.”
22 July 2011
The Climate and Health Alliance responded to comments by the Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu who has asserted that the federal government carbon price policy would be bad for health.
CAHA Convenor Fiona Armstrong said the health effects of climate change would have a far greater detrimental impact on the health of Victorians than the carbon price.
“Victorians have already experienced serious adverse consequences of climate change in terms of public health and the failure to take effective action to reduce emissions puts many lives at risk,” Ms Armstrong said.
The Climate and Health Alliance urged the Premier and the Victorian government to support the policy being proposed by the federal government as it represents an important public health measure.
11 July 2011
The Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) has welcomed the package on climate policy announced by the Prime Minister in Canberra yesterday and called on Australians to support the package in the nation’s long term interests.
“The health and wellbeing of the Australian and global community depends on taking effective action on climate change,” said Fiona Armstrong, CAHA Convenor.
“The package as announced on Sunday represents an important first step in developing a responsible climate policy for Australia,” Ms Armstrong said.
“It is an improvement on the government’s earlier policy of the CPRS and goes beyond the single mechanism of the carbon price with some important and additional measures that will help start Australia’s transition to a zero emissions society.”
4 July 2011
The exemption of fuel from the carbon price legislation is a blow to the nation’s health, the Climate and Health Alliance said today.
“It is very disappointing to see media reports today regarding the decision of the Multi Party Climate Change Committee to exempt fuel from the carbon price legislation,” Climate and Health Alliance Convenor Fiona Armstrong said today.
27 June 2011
The Climate and Health Alliance, together with other non government organisations and charities, has launched a campaign “Voices for the Murray-Darling” which is calling for the development of a plan for the Murray Darling Basin to revive the wetlands and rivers, with environmental flows based on credible science.
“We recognise that the health of the population ultimately depends on a healthy ecosystem. We cannot continue to degrade our ecosystems and expect no adverse consequences for human health and wellbeing,” CAHA Convenor Fiona Armstrong said.
9 June 2011
A new study released this month from the Union of Concerned Scientists suggests climate change is likely to cause dramatic increases in respiratory disease from ozone pollution.
This study Rising Temperatures, Worsening Ozone Pollution demonstrates the complex and increasing health risks associated with rising global average temperatures associated with climate change, according to Climate and Health Alliance Convenor Fiona Armstrong.
“This study is another important contribution in understanding the health consequences of failing to act on climate change,” Ms Armstrong said.
2 May 2011
The Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) released a new briefing paper on the carbon pricing framework, with health groups calling for carbon pricing revenue to be directed to assist the health sector cut emissions, and not to shore up the profits of polluters.
CAHA Convenor Fiona Armstrong said the Alliance did not believe companies and industries that had maintained a deliberate strategy of continuing to invest in and develop high emitting industries and technologies deserved any compensation.
“Given the substantial and long term evidence regarding global warming, the failure of many corporations to better position themselves for a low carbon future is a breach of their fiduciary responsibilities and a gross failure of corporate risk management, for which compensation is inappropriate,” Ms Armstrong said.
18th March 2011
The Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) says Australia’s carbon price must recognise the human health costs of coal fired power and create a strong incentive for the roll-out of large scale renewable energy to replace fossil fuelled electricity generation.
CAHA pointed to a new study from the Harvard Medical School which estimates the economic, health and environmental costs of the life cycle of coal is costing the US public a third to one half of a trillion dollars annually.
“If the estimated health and environmental costs of coal were included in the price of coal-fired electricity, according to this study it would double or triple its cost, and make safer non-fossil renewable energy generation cost competitive,” CAHA Convenor Fiona Armstrong said.
17th February 2011
The Climate and Health Alliance has today called on the Multi Party Climate Change Committee (MPCCC) to develop an ambitious agenda for strong emissions reductions to reduce the health risks posed by current levels of atmospheric CO2.
Early reports of a low carbon price have alarmed the Alliance which has been calling for comprehensive climate policies in addition to a price on carbon that reflects the health and climate costs of using fossil fuels for energy generation and transport.
22th November 2010
The Climate and Health Alliance has urged the Australian Government to include consideration of the economic benefits arising from avoided ill health in the terms of reference for the Productivity Commission study into climate policy economics announced last week.
CAHA points to a recent study from Europe which demonstrates that substantial health and economic benefits would arise from strong targets for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
15th September 2010
The Climate and Health Alliance welcomed a new report from the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) and Health Care Without Harm Europe (HCWH E) which demonstrates the very substantial health and economic benefits of strong targets for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
The report reveals the higher the target, the better the outcome for human health, health care budgets and productivity.
19th August 2010
The Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) welcomed the release of a guide on the science of climate change this week by the Australian Academy of Science, produced by leading climate change scientists.
“The Alliance recognises that despite the overwhelming scientific and observed evidence of climate change there is a poor level of literacy on the science of climate change in the Australian community,” CAHA spokesperson, Fiona Armstrong said.
10th August 2010
The Climate and Health Alliance has welcomed the proposal by the Victorian Greens at their campaign launch this week to establish a taskforce to tackle the impact of climate change on health.
The Alliance, launched last week at a national meeting of health leaders in Melbourne, is a coalition of groups and individuals in the health sector advocating for urgent policy action on climate change as a threat to human health.
4th August 2010
Health leaders meeting in Melbourne today diagnosed urgent action on climate change as needed to safeguard the community’s health.
The meeting over 40 health sector leaders from across Australia has prompted the formation of the Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) to advocate for urgent policy action on climate change to reduce the very significant threats posed to human health.