Climate Change and Health

Action on climate change represents an opportunity to both reduce harms and risks of climate change and improve health outcomes across Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand and the world.

“Climate change is the greatest global health threat facing the world in the 21st century, but it is also the greatest opportunity to redefine the social and environmental determinants of health”

The Lancet Commission Report on Climate Change and Health

Climate change threatens to worsen food and water shortages and climate-sensitive diseases and increase the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. Health impacts such as respiratory illness from bushfire smoke and heat stress are already seen. Without urgent action, climate change will continue to have serious and worsening consequences for public health.

We are part of a large and growing global network of health and medical organisations calling for action on climate change to protect health. Our calls include:

  • an urgent transition to zero emission renewable energy across all economic sectors with support to affected communities
  • implementation and funding of a national climate change and health strategy to build climate resilience
  • an environmentally sustainable healthcare sector
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If you're an RACP physician, paediatrician or trainee interested in Policy and Advocacy, we want to hear from you. Find out more about how you can represent your profession or contact us.


Our work on climate change and health

Position statements

We have 3 position statements on climate change and health:

Climate Change and Health (PDF)
Environmentally Sustainable Healthcare (PDF)
The Health Benefits of Mitigating Climate Change (PDF)

To promote these positions, we regularly respond to public consultations and engage in key projects in this space. Our work on health impacts of air pollution and health benefits of environmental protection supports this activity.

MJA-Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change

Lancet Countdown reports | We have contributed to the development of the Lancet Countdown and MJA-Lancet Countdown policy briefs on Australia’s progress on health and climate change since 2017. The policy brief provides actionable, evidence-based recommendations for decision makers based on the findings of the MJA-Lancet Countdown and the global Lancet Countdown reports.

MJA-Lancet Australian policy brief | We endorsed the 2021 MJA-Lancet Australian policy brief, available on Lancet Resources along with policy briefs from other participating countries.

Submissions and advocacy

2021

Opinion piece Climate action needed to prevent health crisis worsening by Professor John Wilson AM, RACP President

Media release “Our national health is on the line”: Physicians want a plan for climate and health from the PM at COP26 calling on the Prime Minister to acknowledge the health impacts of climate change.

Representation at the Climate Change Sustainability: Leadership and Action from Australian Doctors webinar and a joint letter to the Prime Minister (PDF)

Submission on the Victorian Health and Human Services Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan 2022-2026 (PDF)

2020

Submission to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 Independent Review (PDF) followed by a media release

Submission to the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements (PDF) and a subsequent Submission to the Royal Commission’s Health Issues paper (PDF)

Endorsement of a joint letter calling for a #HealthyRecovery post-COVID-19 from AMA, RACGP, CICM, ACRRM, RANZCOG, RANZCP, AMSA and DEA, along with support for a joint media release

Endorsement and support of NSW RDN Natural Disaster and Emergency Primary Health Workforce Response

2019

Media release calling on NSW and Federal governments to act on climate change and joint media release with other health organisations declaring air pollution in NSW a public health emergency in response to extreme heat and bushfire smoke

Declaration of a climate health emergency media release

Endorsement of Expert Position Statement on health-based standards for Australian regulated thresholds of nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and ozone (PDF) in ambient air, followed by a submission and media release

Submission to the Climate Health WA Inquiry (PDF)

Fossil fuel divestment letters sent to HESTA and First State super

Australian Federal election campaign statement (PDF) and advocacy, including an election advocacy kit with a factsheet (PDF), social media kit and template letter for candidates

2017

Climate Change and Health breakfast lecture (MP3) event audio recording, hosted by the RACP and facilitated by Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine Fellow, Professor Lynne Madden

2015

International 'Doctors for Climate Action' campaign coordinated by the RACP including a Global Consensus Statement: Act Now to Reduce the Damaging Health Impacts of Climate Change (PDF) supported by 69 health organisations and 1,500 individuals

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