Climate Change and Health

Why Climate Change and Health?

“Tackling climate change could be the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century.”
The Lancet Commission Report on Climate Change and Health

The health impacts of climate change are a pressing global public health concern.

Urgent action on climate change represents an opportunity to simultaneously reduce the harms and risks of climate change, and improve health outcomes for Australians, New Zealanders, and the world.

Unchecked, climate change threatens to worsen food and water shortages, change the risk of climate-sensitive diseases, and increase the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. This is likely to have serious consequences for public health and wellbeing.

The RACP is part of a large and growing global network of health and medical organisations calling for action on climate change.

The RACP is calling for ​more awareness of the health risks of climate change and extreme weather events, including more sustainable healthcare and evidence based strategies for management of extreme weather related risks to healthcare infrastructure, operations and personnel.

The RACP's Climate Change and Health Working Party has developed three evidence-based position statements covering:

For more information and resources see the RACP's curated collection on climate change and health.

Doctors for Climate Action

In the lead up to the UN Climate Change conference COP21, the RACP coordinated an international Margaret Chan receives Consensus Statementcampaign 'Doctors for Climate Action' including a Global Consensus Statement: Act Now to Reduce the Damaging Health Impacts of Climate Change (PDF 5MB)

The statement was endorsed by 69 health and medical organisations from around the world. A further 1,500 doctors, medical professionals and other individuals signed the calls to action. The statement was presented to Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization, at the Climate and Health Summit held in Paris during COP21.    

Recent submissions and media

Recent events

Launch of The Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change

On 31 October 2017, the RACP hosted the Australian launch of The Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change. The report is the culmination of the work of 24 leading academic institutions and inter-governmental agencies, and tracks current progress on the relationship between public health and climate change.

It follows on from the work of the 2015 Lancet Commission, which concluded that anthropogenic climate change threatens to undermine the last 50 years of gains in public health, and conversely, that a comprehensive response to climate change could be “the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century”.

Speakers at the event included Dr. Melissa C. Lott, contributing author of the 2017 report by the The Lancet Countdown, A/Professor Peter Sainsbury, Australian Policy Brief author Katherine O’Shea and Australian Medical Students Association representatives Isobelle Woodruff and Isabelle McKay.

The Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change
Australian Policy Brief: The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change (PDF 776KB)

Climate change and human health: Tracking the transition from threat to opportunity

On Thursday, 17 August 2017, the RACP hosted a breakfast event on climate change and human health. Climate Change Health Breakfast
Guest speakers Dr Nick Watts, Executive Director of the Lancet Countdown and Professor Tony Capon, the inaugural Professor of Planetary Health at the University of Sydney presented at the event which was facilitated by Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine President Professor Lynne Madden. 

Dr Watts and Professor Capon discussed the threat to global public health posed by climate change and the impact of advocacy by health and medical organisations. 
Listen to a recording of the event.

How can I contribute my expertise?

RACP Trainees and Physicians can access the Represent Your Profession webpage for more information, or send a query to or via the online contact form.

Where can I read more?

Read published RACP policies, position statements or submissions by searching the Policy and Advocacy Library or view the latest Policy Submissions.   
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