Croakey readers with an interest in climate change may wish to tune in for Two Hours of Twitter Power for the #JustClimate project on Monday – from 12-2pm AEDT.
The tweet-up, to be moderated by Professor Kerry Arabena, President of the International Association for Ecology and Health, and Summer May Finlay, a Contributing Editor at Croakey, will be joined by Larissa Baldwin from Seed Mob, the Indigenous youth climate network.
And find out more about the International Association for Ecology and Health in this article, providing a useful scene-setter for the tweet-up, in which Arabena writes that:
…we need to heal relationships between all peoples and the places where we live through sustainable programs of activity, then scale these over time; we need to be cognisant of future global trends; and we need to co-create knowledge transfer, capacity building and sustainability of these initiatives with people who will be impacted by our approach….
Together, we need to decide what we can do, in our little piece of the world, in the 80 or so years that we have to live. Some will do this through social media, webinars and presentations, projects, caring for Country initiatives, building an EcoHealth workforce, writing publications and shifting our language from one of deﬁcit to one of strength. Others will bring sectors together, challenge the outer bounds of their own knowledge traditions, develop new methodologies founded in diversity, coherence and equality.
All of us, moving into the 21st century, will need to hone our skills and redeﬁne our roles as individuals and in organisations and invest in meaningful relationships that facilitate compassionate responses to the issues before us, drawing on the source of strength behind us.”
We are delighted to report that journalist Marie McInerney will be live-tweeting part of a forthcoming Doctors for the Environment Australia conference for the Croakey Conference News Service (register here). For news from that conference on April 1 and 2, follow #iDEAConf.
Meanwhile, Fiona Armstrong and Danielle Schutte from the Climate and Health Alliance report in the article below on some award-winning moves by the healthcare industry to build climate resilience, recently recognised by the Health Care Climate Challenge.
Health sector steps up on climate
Fiona Armstrong and Danielle Schutte write:
As the global community is reeling from major setbacks to climate action and research, with the US President pledging to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, and major cuts to climate science in the US and here in Australia, the healthcare industry is getting on with the job of cutting carbon, and demonstrating leadership in building climate resilience.
The recently announced 2020 Health Care Climate Challenge awards saw around 30 hospitals and health systems from 23 countries recognised for their efforts to reduce their climate footprint, develop low-carbon models of care, and advocate for policies to protect the future health of the planet.
Three health services from Australia and New Zealand (Brisbane, Gippsland and Auckland) have come out on top globally for their environmental performance and climate leadership, winning gold and silver awards in categories of climate resiliency, greenhouse gas reduction, and climate leadership.
The 2020 Health Care Climate Challenge is an initiative of the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals (GGHH) network – a voluntary alliance with 742 members worldwide, representing over 21,700 hospitals and health centres committed to protecting the planet and global health from climate change.
The efforts of the network are focussed on ten action areas, including a commitment to leadership through prioritising environmental health, implementing energy efficient and clean, renewable energy generation, purchasing and serving sustainably grown, healthy food, and supporting green and healthy hospital design and construction.
The 2020 Healthcare Climate Challenge provides an opportunity for hospitals and health services to demonstrate their exemplary performance, competing for global awards to help raise levels of ambition in the sector even higher.
The Challenge is based on three main goals: mitigation – reducing their carbon footprint and/or fostering low carbon health care technologies; resilience – strengthening against the impacts of extreme weather and the shifting burden of disease, and; leadership – through educating staff and the public, promoting innovative policies to protect public health from climate change.
Hospitals and healthcare systems remain extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change. They both contribute to and participate in energy-intensive and polluting activities, and as such, there are countless opportunities for health services to reduce their environmental impact and become more resilient in the face of a rapidly changing climate.
International examples include Gundersen Health System in the US which has reduced their emissions by a whopping 83%, and are the first health system in the US to offset 100% of their fossil fuel use with locally produced energy.
The Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care was awarded Gold in the category of Climate Leadership for leading the development and implementation of their Health Care Climate Change Resiliency Toolkit. The Toolkit helps organisations identify practices in key areas such as emergency management, facilities management, health care services, food service and supply chain – key areas in which to reduce climate change risks for the organisation and its infrastructure.
In South Africa, private hospital network Netcare has won Gold awards Climate Resiliency and Leadership for their efforts in analyzing extreme weather risks and health vulnerabilities due to climate change, and developing plans to address health impacts of climate change.
Two Australian and one New Zealand health service took out five gold and silver awards in the latest 2020 Health Care Climate Challenge, showcasing their exemplary efforts and commitment to health and well-being.
Kooweerup Regional Health Service in Victoria swept up a Silver in Climate Resiliency and Gold in Climate Leadership with programs to educate staff, patients and the local community on the health impacts of climate change, and their work promoting further adaptation and mitigation policies for Australia.
Mater Hospital in Queensland took out a gold in Climate Resiliency and silver in Greenhouse Gas Reduction (energy), following a string of other awards recognising sustainability such as the 2014 Lord Mayor’s Business Awards – Sustainability and the 2016 Queensland Premier’s Sustainability Awards.
According to Sustainability Director Chris Hill, the wide variety of initiatives across the key themes of energy, water, waste, procurement (purchasing), facilities design, transport and stakeholder engagement, have saved over $2.3million for the organisation since 2008.
Counties Manukau District Health Board, New Zealand, also took out the silver medal in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction (Non-energy) category through optimising their use of medical gases and paper and improving waste disposal practices.
So while politicians dither, obfuscate and deny the implications of our rapidly warming world, hospitals and health services are getting on with the job of responding to climate change.
The Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) coordinates the Pacific Region of the GGHH network, and is currently leading a campaign for a National Strategy on Climate, Health and Wellbeing for Australia, which would see policies and program to support the health sector expand this work, and make green and healthy hospitals and low carbon healthcare, mainstream.
While the efforts outlined here are already underway without policy drivers, leadership from policymakers at both national and state and territory levels to help expand these efforts would lower our emissions and protect people’s health faster and more effectively.
• Fiona Armstrong is the Executive Director of the Climate and Health Alliance and leads the campaign for a National Strategy on Climate, Health and Wellbeing for Australia. Danielle Schutte is a Master of Public Health student and a member of the campaign support committee.
More on #JustClimate
• Bookmark this link to follow the #JustClimate stories.
• Read more about the #JustClimate project here.
Croakey acknowledges and thanks the Oak Foundation for a grant to enable the #JustClimate project, and especially Stephen Campbell and Lucie Rychetnik for their thoughtful assistance in facilitating this. We also acknowledge and thank Professor Kerry Arabena for funding Marie McInerney’s registration to attend the international One Health EcoHealth Congress in Melbourne in 2016. We also acknowledge and thank the Public Health Association of Australia for auspicing the Oak Foundation grant, and Paul Dutton for the artwork, Mother Earth, in the logo.