World Environment Day: Tackling Climate Change with Heart.

By Maeve O'Keeffe Policy News   |   9th Jun 2023

Three core areas in which the Irish Heart Foundation advocates for a healthier planet.

Monday the 5th of June was World Environment Day, which aims to encourage worldwide awareness and action to protect our environment.

Although more and more people are becoming aware of the climate change emergency, many people do not know about the effects of climate change on cardiovascular health. In fact, according to the Irish Heart Foundation, “Air pollution, heat waves, and other climate-change disruption effects will intensify existing illnesses such as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.”

Here are three core areas in which the Irish Heart Foundation is committed to promoting public health by addressing the climate and health crisis we currently face:

Air Pollution
Research shows that over 1,700 deaths in Ireland are attributable to air pollution each year. Air pollutants damage your blood vessels by making them narrower and harder; contributing to the risk of heart disease and stroke.

In March, the Irish Heart Foundation launched an all-island report with the British Heart Foundation Northern Ireland, which found that almost 1,000 lives a year could be saved on the island of Ireland if authorities adopt and meet the World Health Organization’s (WHO) guidelines on air pollution. With research conducted by a team at Queen’s University Belfast and Technological University Dublin, the report used data to estimate the number of premature deaths associated with fine particulate matter air pollution exposure across the island of Ireland.

In order to meet the targets established by the WHO and reduce the number of premature deaths caused by air pollution, the Irish Heart Foundation campaigns for measures such as calling for a ban on all solid smoky fuel, a reduction in private vehicle use and increase in active travel.

Active Travel
Ireland’s car commuter culture is contributing to rising levels of air pollution which is damaging to both human and planetary health, while also leading to an increased sedentary lifestyle.

Moving away from private vehicle use and towards active forms of travel such as walking, cycling, and public transport not only benefits the planet but is vastly better for your cardiovascular health.

We campaign for measures to increase active travel, including:

“ We need to more than halve the carbon footprint of what we eat, and to achieve such a huge reduction we need to focus on policy level changes and structural systems changes.”

Orna O'Brien, Senior Dietician with the Irish Heart Foundation

Climate and Health Alliance
The Irish Heart Foundation is a founding member of the Climate and Health AllianceClimate and Health Alliance, an organisation made up several public health organisations and advocacy groups from around the island of Ireland.

In May, the Climate and Health Alliance launched a report about sustainable diets, entitled ‘Fixing Food Together: Transitioning Ireland to a healthy and sustainable food system.’ The paper, which was launched at a landmark conference featuring a host of experts, recommends key areas where Ireland needs to drive change. In May, the Climate and Health Alliance launched a report about sustainable diets, entitled ‘Fixing Food Together: Transitioning Ireland to a healthy and sustainable food system.’ The paper, which was launched at a landmark conference featuring a host of experts, recommends key areas where Ireland needs to drive change. Speaking about the report, lead author and Senior Dietitian with the Irish Heart Foundation, said “We need to more than halve the carbon footprint of what we eat, and to achieve such a huge reduction we need to focus on policy level changes and structural systems changes.”

 

If you are a member of the public interested in the Irish Heart Foundation’s work towards a healthier planet, contact our Advocacy Campaigns Manager, Mark Murphy, by emailing mmurphy@irishheart.ie.

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