New Alliance calls for action on climate change and health

By June Shannon Policy News   |   26th May 2020

A coalition of health groups demand government action on the climate crisis to deliver environmental and health benefits

A new health sector climate alliance, of which the Irish Heart Foundation is a founding member, has called on all parties in the current government negotiations to adopt a number of measures to address climate change and improve public health.

The Climate and Health Alliance is a coalition of public health NGOs, professional bodies, and academic institutions committed to advocating for urgent government action on climate change and its impact on public health. Its membership includes, The Association for Health Promotion Ireland, The Irish Cancer Society, The Irish College of General Practitioners, Irish Doctors for the Environment, The Irish Heart Foundation, The Irish Medical Organisation, The new National Children’s Hospital, The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Safefood and the Schoool of Public Health at UCC.

The Climate and Health Alliance has today (Tuesday 26 May 2020) submitted a 35-point plan to Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and The Green Party negotiators which calls for radical action on air pollution, the built environment, sedentary lifestyles and unsustainable diets.

The Climate Health Alliance Action Plan can be broken down into five separate headings. These are: the Introduction of ‘A Clean Air Act’ to reduce air pollution, Investment in active travel, the transformation of the built environment, the creation of a sustainable agri-food sector and the introduction of a ‘Just Transition’ scheme to support disadvantaged groups worst hit by pollution and carbon taxes.

" The next Government has a unique opportunity to create a healthier and more sustainable society that has to be grasped.”

Tim Collins, Spokesperson , The Climate and Health Alliance

The document includes calls for a number of transformative meaures to address the current climte crisis including, the introduction of a Clean Air Act, which would include a nationwide ban on the burning of all solid smoky fuel and the introduction of a daily congestion charge for all private vehicles entering Dublin city centre; the diversion of at least 20 per cent of the national transport infrastructure budget to expand public transport and a commitment to greatly increase current walking and cycling rates.

Commenting, spokesperson for the Climate Health Alliance and CEO of the Irish Heart Foundation, Tim Collins said, “By implementing critical measures underpinned by a properly resourced Just Transition programme, the new Government can achieve a triple whammy of taking major strides to combat climate change, unlocking multiple associated public health and economic benefits and building greater public resilience to the current and future impact of Covid-19,”

“To have gone through the huge societal impact of lockdown in the interest of public health and then fail to maintain the health gains made by reduced air pollution and improvements to the built environment necessitated by social distancing would be unconscionable. The next Government has a unique opportunity to create a healthier and more sustainable society that has to be grasped.”

Ireland’s first ever Climate Change Action Plan for Health published by the Department of Health and the HSE last year, revealed that the health effects of climate change will have the biggest impact on the most vulnerable including those living with chronic conditions such as heart disease and stroke, the elderly and people from lower socioeconomic groups.

For more information on the Climate Health Alliance please see here.

You can read the full Climate Change Health Alliance action plan here.

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