At the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) conference in Darwin today, there is due to be an update from the Climate Change Working Group.

Professor Tony Capon, who resigned as chair of the group in protest at a recent College statement on climate change, is due to chair the session (his resignation is due to take effect after the conference).

Oh, to be a fly on the wall. It should be rather interesting, given the concerns both within and outside the College about the issue (some of which is summarised in this news story for the BMJ – abstract only available to non-subscribers).

Ms Fiona Armstrong, chair of the Climate and Health Alliance, is due to address the session. Given the wider context, the statement that she has issued today takes on some added weight.

Media statement: Health professionals must advocate for climate action

Climate change poses serious and immediate threats to public health and health professionals should be advocating for urgent action on climate change to protect public health, a Darwin medical conference will hear today.

Convenor of the Climate and Health Alliance, Fiona Armstrong, will address the Royal Australasian College of Physicians 2011 Congress, and outline the Alliance position of advocating for strong emissions reductions because of the threat posed to human health from climate change.

“Public health experts in the rest of the world are taking a strong position for action on climate change,” Ms Armstrong said. “However in Australia, there is little recognition among policy makers or the community about the major adverse health effects from climate change that are already occurring and which will escalate as global average temperatures rise.

“The report released by the Australian Climate Commission this week reaffirmed the urgent need for action on climate change within the next decade. The health impacts is one of the most compelling reasons to act to cut emissions but is being overlooked in the policy debate.

“The reality is that action on climate change will bring many health benefits. Our colleagues from the Climate and Health Council in the UK wrote recently in the British Medical Journal that reducing greenhouse gas emissions has “unrivalled opportunities for improving public health” and that “moving to a low carbon economy could be the next great public health advance.”

Health professionals have a responsibility to the community as respected civil society leaders to lend their voice to the debate and urge political leaders to heed the evidence for action, Ms Armstrong said.

The Climate and Health Alliance is a coalition of health care stakeholders established in 2010 to advocate for policy action to reduce the risks to human health from climate change.


More from Croakey: I have contacted the RACP communications office a number of times, seeking response to both recent Croakey posts and for the BMJ news story, but there has been no sign of interest in engaging – at least in public – with this discussion.

This is a shame, especially given that a number of senior Fellows have told me privately of their concerns about both this matter and broader issues within the College.

The invitation stands: if the College wishes to respond to the concerns that have been raised, you are welcome to do so at Croakey.

• Previous Croakey posts on these issues

RACP under fire

Leadership needed on climate change

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