All sides should back a National Climate Health Strategy: health peak bodies

All sides of politics should back a National Climate and Health Strategy to better protect the health of everyone in Australia, the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) has said. 

The call comes as the country’s peak public health body released its assessment of the major parties’ federal election commitments to reduce preventable harm by cutting greenhouse gas emissions and building climate resilience.

A National Climate Health Strategy would provide guidance for all levels of government in Australia to tackle the health effects of global heating, which are already evident in every part of the continent. 

“We welcome the commitments of the Australian Labor Party and Australian Greens to enact a National Climate and Health Strategy, and encourage the Coalition to support it,” PHAA President, Adjunct Professor Tarun Weeramanthri, said.

“The health of so many people in Australia has been harmed already – for example air pollution and water-borne illnesses from bushfires, floods and heatwaves – and we know more harms are likely under our current emissions trajectory. 

“The health consequences are well-established and are increasing, so it’s essential we have all sides of politics working together to counter emissions, just as all sides united behind the health advice to confront the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA), representing 95+ health and medical organisations, has backed the call. 

CAHA Strategic Projects Director, Ms Fiona Armstrong said: “We need national leadership to tackle the impacts of climate change, as the health of people in Australia is being affected.”

“72% of health professionals surveyed last year said the public’s health was already being affected by climate change. Over 50% reported their workplaces had been affected by an extreme weather event in the last 12 months.”

“The health sector is very firmly behind a National Climate and Health Strategy to ensure climate solutions are healthy solutions. 

However, CAHA’s assessment of the major political parties on key policies relevant to climate change and health reveals major gaps.

“The commitments of the ALP and Greens are welcome – we also urge the Coalition to step up and support this policy,” Ms Armstrong said.

For analysis of the major parties’ policies on climate change and health, see CAHA’s 2022 Federal Election Scorecard Report.

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