Submission on the National Climate and Health Strategy

The George Institute has been a strong advocate of a National Health and Climate Strategy to help Australia reduce the impacts of climate change on health and build a net zero emissions health system. The consultation paper issued by the Australian Government is an important step in shaping this strategy, and we are pleased to contribute to it through our submission and ongoing engagement.

Climate change is a health emergency. Heat stress attributable to climate change already contributes to 30-35% of deaths in Australia. Other health impacts include respiratory illness from worsening air quality, increased prevalence and wider distribution of vector-borne diseases, and increased mental illness. The development of this Strategy is an opportunity to effectively integrate health and climate policy, and reform our health system to meet our current and future challenges caused by climate change.

We recommend that the Strategy:

  • Set out a roadmap for the consideration of climate change impacts on health to be integrated into government decision-making and programmes across portfolios and jurisdictions.
  • Set a clear vision, mission and objectives focused on four key areas:
    • Health for all: prioritise developing climate risk and vulnerability assessments for high-risk communities and a framework of vulnerability indicators.
    • Net-zero emissions healthcare system: develop a decarbonisation plan for the health system in partnership with States and Territories. The first step should be to commission an emissions baseline report and marginal abatement cost curve for the health system.
    • Accelerate research and innovation: investment and support are needed to develop and scale up new, future-focused models of care to meet the challenges of climate change and intersecting pressures on health and the health system.
    • Climate positive public policy: renovate the policy decision making architecture to bring consideration of climate impacts into the centre of policy making and enable joined-up decision making across portfolios and jurisdictions.

To accelerate action we recommend that the Minister for Health is added to the Net-Zero Cabinet Committee and a Ministerial Council or similar body is created to bring together the Commonwealth, States and Territories to drive coordinated and effective action.

Please refer to our full submission on this page.