Actions for Healthcare in the face of the Climate Emergency with Courtney Howard
In Australia, a 300 bed hospital uses the same amount of energy as 5000 to 10000 homes. In many ways, what we do at work really does matter.
The good news is that this is a solvable problem, and in some ways the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the steps to facing the Climate Emergency.
Just as we learnt that first step for managing the pandemic was to stop the problem growing by limiting spread with physical distancing, we know that our first step in controlling our carbon emissions is to stop burning fossil fuels.
Secondly, to deal with the crisis already at hand, we must build capacity and resilience, not just in our health systems but also in our environmental systems.
Thirdly, the climate emergency equivalent of the search for a pandemic vaccine is the need for us to find a means of drawing CO2 back out of the atmosphere. We can draw CO2 out of the atmosphere through both our forests and the ocean.
We have already worked out these simple steps to solving the Climate Emergency, but the problem we face is a lack of willpower to implement them.
How do we overcome this inertia? What levers can we pull to start taking these steps in the right direction?
The levers we can employ include:
- Legal actions against governments and institutions for inaction.
- Economic by divesting from fossil fuels.
- Supporting independent science based groups to combat the concentrated media disinformation.
- Target climate sceptics within government. Get political.
Courtney Howard is an Emergency Physician in Canada’s subarctic, President of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, Chair of the advocacy subcommittee of the WHO-Civil Society Working Group on Climate Change and Health, is on the Steering Committee for the Planetary Health Alliance and is Policy Coordinator for ClimateCODA.
She has led research on menstrual cups and wildfires, was the 2018 International Policy Coordinator for the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change, and has participated in advocacy around divestment, carbon pricing, active transport, plant-rich diets, coal phase-out, hydraulic fracturing, wildfires, and the mental health impacts of climate change.
Her mentors in mischievous change-making are her two hilarious daughters, with whom she can frequently be found dancing to indefensible pop music.
Coda EARTH 2020
- The Climate Emergency is a global healthcare emergency – But how bad is it? with Tim Flannery
- Is the Climate Emergency exacerbating social injustice and inequity? with Omnia El Omrani
- What is Sustainable Healthcare? with Michelle Fox
- Actions for Healthcare in the face of the Climate Emergency with Courtney Howard
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