Liberal, Greens and Labor MPs jointly launch climate health strategy framework

In a rare note of tripartisan support, Liberal, Labor and Greens politicians were all present at the launch of the ground breaking National Strategy on Climate and Health and Well-being for Australia by the Climate and Health Alliance.

The world’s first health and climate framework policy initiative has been in development for over a year with a large degree of consultation with health professionals. It is endorsed by more than 30 medical and health professional organisations around Australia.

Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Indigenous Health Ken Wyatt MP, Greens leader and health spokesperson Senator Richard Di Natale, and Labor’s health spokesperson Christine King MP all attended and spoke at the launch and round table discussion afterwards.

The Framework entails seven Areas of Policy Action, including the phasing out coal, greening hospitals, and a coordinated approach to managing the health consequences of extreme weather events, such as heat stress and thunderstorm asthma.

Key policy recommendations include:

  • Establish national emissions reduction targets consistent with the recommendations of
    the Climate Change Authority and based on Australia’s fair share of global emission reduction
  • Evaluate the economic savings from additional health benefits associated with a range
    of emissions reductions strategies through a national study
  • Reduce deaths from air pollution by phasing out coal and strengthening national emissions
    standards for motor vehicles
  • Prevent poor health associated with inadequate building standards by including climate resilience measures in the National Construction Code
  • Avoid adverse health impacts from industry and infrastructure projects by incorporating health impact assessments in the evaluation of project applications
  • Promote healthy, low emissions diets and lifestyles through provision of funding for public education programs
  • Ensure health professionals are able to recognise, prepare for and respond to the health impacts of climate change through establishing a national education and training framework
  • Monitor health impacts through the establishment of a national environmental health surveillance system which includes climate-related indicators
  • Provide national leadership through the establishment of a Ministerial Health and Climate Change Forum consisting of Commonwealth and State/Territory Ministers with responsibility for Health, Environment and Energy.

Climate Health Strategy 7 policy areas

Executive Director of the Climate and Health Alliance Fiona Armstrong said: “The Framework provides a comprehensive roadmap to assist Australia in addressing the significant risks that climate change poses to the health and well-being of the community, and in meeting its obligations to citizen’s ‘right to health’ under the Paris Agreement.”

The framework implementation of a national strategy will require federal, state/territory and local government actions, and cross-portfolio cooperation, involving health, energy and climate/environment portfolios working together.

The Framework is designed to support Australia in reporting against a set of global climate and health indicators, published in the leading international medical journal, The Lancet. A comparative analysis and report each year will be published on the progress of nations in addressing the health impacts of climate change. The first report is due in November 2017.

Executive Director at Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change, Dr Nick Watts commented: “This policy framework provides a coordinated and comprehensive approach to supporting Australia to meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement. The implementation of a national strategy on climate change and health could put Australia in a leadership position globally and go a long way to ensuring the protection of community health and well-being while reducing carbon emissions.”

In the early afternoon Labor’s Shadow climate and energy spokesperson Mark Butler and Catherine King, Labor’s shadow health spokeperson announced that a future Labor government would develop a climate and health policy based upon the work of the Climate and Health Alliance.

For details on social media how the launch and round table discussion unfolded via storify: