Open letter on unprecedented threat to health by climate change #climateelection

April 16, 2019 at 4:10 pm 1 comment

CAHA open letter cover #Ausvotes19

Climate Action Moreland have signed on to an Open Letter to Political Parties and Candidates for the Australian Federal Election 2019, raising the issue that Climate change poses an unprecedented threat to the health of people in Australia and across the world.

The Climate and Health Alliance have circulated the following open letter. We note that Federal Labor have committed to introducing a National Strategy based on the Framework for a National Strategy on Climate, Health and Well-being for Australia if elected to govern. The Australian Greens also support a National Strategy.

A climate scorecard has also been produced for the election by the Climate and Health Alliance, after analysing the policies of the three main political parties on climate change and health. Climate-Health Scorecard: Coalition earns 0/8, Federal Labor 4.5/8 and Greens 8/8

CAHA assessed parties’ policies on eight key climate-health issues: emissions reduction targets recommended by the national Climate Change Authority; 100% renewable energy by 2030; supporting a sustainable and climate-resilient healthcare sector; an economy-wide carbon price; a national moratorium on new coal or gas; a just transition for fossil fuel workers; strong air pollution laws, as well as a national strategy on climate, health and well-being.

CAHA open letter on health and climate

We, the undersigned, call on all political parties and candidates in the upcoming federal election to:

  1. Acknowledge the significant and profound impacts climate change has on the health of people and our health system.
  2. Support the implementation of a National Strategy on Climate, Health and Well-being, based on the Framework developed by health stakeholders. 1
  3. Ensure the Strategy includes a credible, equitable and stable plan to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with emphasis on a rapid transition to renewable energy in the electricity and transport sectors.
  4. Support rapid phase out of fossil fuel subsidies which contribute to climate change and health impacts.
  5. Support the implementation of a plan to assist the health sector and the community, particularly people at risk, to adapt and build resilience to unavoidable climate change impacts already locked in.
  6. Support a climate and health research program to evaluate specific threats to health in Australia from climate change and fossil fuels.


We are a group of organisations and individuals in the health, social and environment sectors calling on all parties and candidates to publicly recognise the significant and profound health impacts of climate change to Australian people. We need to urgently act to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and put in place a plan to adapt and build resilience to unavoidable climate change impacts from warming that has already occurred.

Australia has committed to the Paris Agreement and the goals of reducing global warming to well below 2 degrees and pursue 1.5 degrees. This commitment also includes an obligation for Australia to consider its’ citizens ‘right to health’ in the context
of its national climate change response. But the response from successive governments to date has been woefully inadequate, and Australian people’s health and lives are at risk.

Climate change has been described by the World Health Organisation as a health emergency 2 , and by The Lancet medical journal as the greatest threat to health of the 21st century. 3 These statements on the real health risks of climate change are backed
by several decades of national and global scientific evidence, and the direct experience of hundreds of thousands of people experiencing the health impacts of climate change every day, and hundreds of thousands of deaths that have already occurred.
People experiencing poverty or disadvantage are most vulnerable to health impacts from climate change. There are more than 3 million people, including 739,000 children, living in poverty in Australia who struggle to afford the basics including
adequate health care. 4

The World Health Organization estimates 250,000 additional deaths each year are attributable to climate change. 5 The 2012 DARA report on climate vulnerability estimated deaths associated with climate change and the carbon economy (due to the pollution it produces) will rise to six million deaths per year by 2030. 6

The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Global Warming of 1.5 Degrees report provides incontrovertible evidence that the “climate-related risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security, and economic growth are projected to increase with global warming of 1.5°C and increase further with 2°C”.

The recent Lancet Countdown report 7 concluded:

  • 1. Present day changes in heat waves, labour capacity, vector-borne disease, and food security provide early warning of the compounded and overwhelming impacts on public health that are expected if temperatures continue to rise. Trends in climate change impacts, exposures, and vulnerabilities show an unacceptably high level of risk for the current and future health of populations across the world.
  • 2. A lack of progress in reducing emissions and building adaptive capacity threatens both human lives and the viability of the national health systems they depend on, with the potential to disrupt core public health infrastructure and overwhelm health services.
  • 3. Despite these delays, a number of sectors have seen the beginning of a low-carbon transition, and it is clear that the nature and scale of the response to climate change will be the determining factor in shaping the health of nations for centuries to come.
  • 4. Ensuring a widespread understanding of climate change as a central public health issue will be crucial in delivering an accelerated response, with the health profession beginning to rise to this challenge.

Health services in Australia are already experiencing the destructive effects of climate change, which is damaging vital health infrastructure, impacting the health workforce, and putting at risk the ability of some services to continue to provide care for the community. 8 These threats will only amplify in the future, putting more lives at risk.

These risks and consequences cannot be managed through the existing health system.

Reports from the Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) national consultation with Australian health professionals confirm the Australian health sector is ill-prepared to manage the impacts of climate change on vulnerable communities and healthcare infrastructure. 9

The organisations listed here support a Framework for a National Strategy on Climate, Health and Well-being to guide this work. We acknowledge the Australian Labor Party’s commitment to implement a National Climate, Health and Well-being Plan based on this Framework if elected to govern, 10 and the support of The Greens. We call upon the Coalition to make a similar commitment.

We stand ready to assist the next Australian Government to further develop and implement comprehensive policy to avoid further loss of life, injury and illness that will inevitably result if there is any further delay.


CAHA open letter supporting organisations #ausvotes19


1 The Framework for a National Strategy on Climate, Health and Well-being for Australia is available at:
3 Watts, N. et al, The 2018 report of the Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: shaping the
health of nations for centuries to come. Available at:
4 ACOSS and UNSW (2018) Poverty in Australia 2018
5 World Health Organization, (2018) Climate Change and Health, Fact Sheet, Available at:
6 DARA Climate Vulnerability Monitor (2012)
7 Watts, N. et al, ibid
8 Loosemore, M, and Chand, A. (2016) Barriers to Building Resilience to Extreme Weather Events in
Australian Hospitals, Available at: Also see:
9 Patrick, R. et al. (2016) Survey of Health Professionals’ Opinions around a National Strategy on Climate,
Health and Wellbeing for Australia, Climate and Health Alliance. Available at:

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Entry filed under: climate change info, health, news, Vote Climate. Tags: , , , , , .

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