The AMA joined leading health organisations to present an outline of the importance of the healthcare sector reducing its emissions and adopting sustainable practices to tackle climate change and deal with potential impacts on the population’s health.
The AMA joined other health leaders from more than 40 organisations on Monday 5 September at the Climate and Health Alliance Health Leaders Roundtable as part of the Better Futures Forum to discuss the health impacts of climate change and recommendations for urgent action.
Professor Eugenie Kayak, Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) Convenor of the Sustainable Healthcare Special Interest Group, presented the AMA/DEA proposal for a national Sustainable Healthcare Unit to be established in the Federal Department of Health. This unit would support environmentally sustainable practice in healthcare and reduce the sector’s own emissions. Australia’s healthcare system is responsible for approximately 7 per cent of Australia’s carbon emissions.
A joint statement was produced at the Roundtable, calling for:
- a Ministerial Forum to coordinate across health, climate and other portfolios
- a national health vulnerability and capacity assessment of the populations most susceptible to climate-health impacts
- an evaluation of the health and economic damages from climate change, and the health and economic benefits of climate policies
- a Sustainable Healthcare Unit to be established in the Department of Health.
The Better Futures Forum brought together key stakeholders to discuss Australia’s climate change agenda. Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen MP gave a keynote address, outlining the importance of implementing the Climate Change Bill 2022, and the government’s commitment to ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are central to Australia’s clean energy strategy. The AMA supports better collaboration on climate change mitigation strategies with populations who are most susceptible to climate change impacts, and stresses the importance of community-led adaptation and resilience strategies.
The forum ran climate change and health workshops and roundtables, which included presentations from doctors such as Prof Eugenie Kayak, Dr Kim Loo, and Dr Cybele Day, who gave insightful examples of how climate change is directly impacting their patients’ mental and physical health and advocated for more government action in this space.