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ICYMI: climate health policy gaps, tackling weight stigma, COVID communications – and upcoming events

Some critical gaps in climate health policy in Australia are identified in new publications. These include a lack of efforts to integrate air pollution control into our national climate planning, and also gaps in public policy debate about the health impacts that arise overseas as a result of our fossil fuel exports.

“…our continued reliance on fossil fuel export revenue is shortening the lives of tens of thousands of people in other countries every year from the PM2.5 emissions arising from the combustion of our fossil fuel exports,” researchers write.

We also bring news on gaps in COVID communications research, as well as recommendations for tackling weight stigma and new publications on advancing accessible kidney transplantation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Scroll to the end for news of events and conferences.

The quotable?

Being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer can be terrifying, lonely and create significant support needs. It is essential people with metastatic breast cancer have their voices listened to and their needs met.”


Climate updates

A draft “health and climate ministerial declaration”, set to be released at the upcoming UN Climate Conference in Dubai (COP28), omits any reference to fossil fuels and their health harms, according to a report by Health Policy Watch.

Instead it has three key messages about the importance of: more health sector adaptation to climate change; increasing the health sector’s access to climate adaptation finance; and “mainstreaming” of health into climate policies.

Meanwhile, the Clean Air NDC Scorecard, published today by the Global Climate and Health Alliance, reveals how the world’s largest economies – the G20 countries – still fall short when it comes to integrating clean air and climate action.

Low and middle income countries, which suffer from the highest exposure to air pollution, demonstrate far more attention and ambition, with Colombia and Mali emerging as joint global leaders on the issue.

The scorecard reports how countries integrate air quality considerations into their national climate plans to deliver the Paris Agreement and examines whether countries recognise the health impacts of air pollution, or if they prioritise action to improve air quality.

Out of 170 commitments assessed in the scorecard, less than a third refer to health impacts of air pollution. Some of the biggest greenhouse gas emitters – like India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Australia – had little or no mention of air pollution in their climate plans

Among the G20 countries, Canada and China lead the way in integrating air quality in their national climate plans. The lowest scorers are Australia, Brazil, the European Union, and India, and also the hosts of COP28, the United Arab Emirates. Indonesia and Saudi Arabia are lowest on the scorecard with one and zero points respectively. (Read more here).

 

(Sourced from the scorecard report)

Read: Dr Zeke Hausfather: I Study Climate Change. The Data Is Telling Us Something New

“And while many experts have been cautious about acknowledging it, there is increasing evidence that global warming has accelerated over the past 15 years rather than continued at a gradual, steady pace. That acceleration means that the effects of climate change we are already seeing — extreme heat waves, wildfires, rainfall and sea level rise — will only grow more severe in the coming years.”Read: Climate change has toppled some civilizations but not others. Why? The link between environmental disasters and societal collapse, explained

“The new research, published in a peer-reviewed biological sciences journal from The Royal Society last month, suggests that resilience is an ability that societies can gain and lose over time. Researchers found that a stable society can withstand even a dramatic climate shock, whereas a small shock can lead to chaos in a vulnerable one.”The UK’s top food security experts believe the country could face “civil unrest” in the coming decades due to climate-triggered food shortages, according to a new survey. Read: Australia’s fossil fuel conflict: exporting pollution while cleaning up at home

“…what is missing from the Australian public policy debate about climate change and its impact on health are the health impacts that arise overseas as a result of our fossil fuel exports – coal and, increasingly, gas….

“…our continued reliance on fossil fuel export revenue is shortening the lives of tens of thousands of people in other countries every year from the PM2.5 emissions arising from the combustion of our fossil fuel exports. And that is without considering the health impacts of other products of fossil fuel combustion, such as sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, and the health impacts of climate change…

“To ensure Australia remains a high income country in this changing global energy market context, Australia urgently needs a plan to reduce reliance on revenue from these fossil fuel exports which will inevitably decline in future. Reducing our reliance on this source of foreign revenue now will have the additional benefit of immediately reducing health harms caused by air pollution from the burning of Australian fossil fuels in other countries.”

Read: Projection of high temperature-related burden of kidney disease in Australia under different climate change, population and adaptation scenarios: population-based study

“It is expected that increasing high temperature exposure will substantially contribute to higher burden of kidney disease across Australia, underscoring the urgent need for public health interventions to mitigate the negative health impacts of a warming climate on burden of kidney disease.”Read: Pregnancy and newborn health – heat impacts and emerging solutions

“This article focuses on the association of heat with both adverse pregnancy and newborn health outcomes. Regarding pregnancy, studies link heat and preterm birth, low birth weight and stillbirth. Multiple potential mechanisms support the biological plausibility of these associations. Emerging evidence suggests that heat, via epigenetics, may affect maternal health far beyond pregnancy. For newborn health impacts, heat is associated with increased hospitalization, neurologic and gastrointestinal dysfunction, and infant death. Research gaps include the need to study neonates separately from children and determining the mechanisms linking heat to adverse outcomes.” </