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Australia to join global health and climate change initiative

16 April 2018
Australia has joined a global initiative tracking progress on human and climate change, say University of Sydney and Macquarie University scholars in today's Medical Journal of Australia.
Melting ice

The Lancet Countdown Report recognises the importance of the climate change challenge in Australia, including its relevance to human health.

The MJA report outlines Australia's involvement in the Lancet Countdown report on health and climate change published in October 2017. The report wll be updated annually until 2030. 

It tracks progress on health and climate change across 40 indicators divided into five categories: climate change impacts, exposures and vulnerability; adaptation planning and resilience for health; mitigation actions and health co-benefits; economics and finance; and public and political engagement.

Dr Ying Zhang, a senior lecturer in the University of Sydney’s School of Public Health, and Associate Professor Paul Beggs, from Macquarie University, wrote in today's MJA that, from an Australian perspective, “with our high level of carbon emissions per capita, it will be important to reflect on our progress and how it compares with that of other countries, especially high-income countries”.

With our high level of carbon emissions per capita, it will be important to reflect on our progress and how it compares with that of other countries, especially high-income countries
Dr Ying Zhang, University of Sydney

“A group of Australian experts from multiple disciplines is commencing work on our first national countdown report,” Zhang and Beggs wrote.

“The project recognises the importance of the climate change challenge in Australia, including its relevance to human health, and also the unique breadth and depth of the Australian expertise in climate change and human health.

“The Australian countdown will mirror the five domain sections of the Lancet Countdown, adopt the indicators used—where feasible and relevant to Australia—and include any useful additional indicators.

The Australian countdown is also envisioned as a timely endeavour that will accelerate the Australian government response to climate change and its recognition of the health benefits of urgent climate action
Associate Professor Paul Beggs, Macquarie University

“The inaugural Australian report is planned for release in late 2018 and is expected to be updated annually. We hope to raise awareness of health issues related to climate change among Australian medical professionals, who play a key role in reducing their risks,” the authors concluded.

“The Australian countdown is also envisioned as a timely endeavour that will accelerate the Australian government response to climate change and its recognition of the health benefits of urgent climate action.”

In 2016, the University of Sydney appointed Dr Tony Capon as the world’s first professor of planetary health. Dr Capon leads the University of Sydney’s Planetary Health Platform.

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