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Climate change is affecting our physical and mental health in multiple ways by increasing the frequency and severity of extreme events such as heatwaves, bushfires, droughts and floods, altering patterns of air pollution and infectious diseases, and excacerbating food and water insecurity, health inequity, migration and conflict.

On the other hand, climate change mitigation and adaptation can deliver numerous health benefits for our society. For example, reducing air pollution caused by the burning of fossil fuels reduces respiratory illness and premature deaths, and preventing our climate from warming further will help limit the health impacts of heat stress. Forgoing cars and using active transport (walking and cycling) helps reduce obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Increasing and enhancing green space in cities mitigates the urban heat island effect and provides opportunities for physical activity and recreation. There is also considerable scope for strengthening the resilience and reducing the carbon footprint of the health sector, for example by improving the energy efficiency of hospitals and reducing medical waste and unnecessary journeys.

Major areas of interest and research in this cluster include but are not limited to:

  • Public health risks related to climate change in Australia and the Asia-Pacific
  • Epidemiological studies of climate variability and health outcomes
  • Bushfires and smoke exposure effects, and related health protection measures
  • Health effects of temperature extremes in different climatic zones
  • Climate interaction with air pollutants, and health co-benefits from decarbonisation
  • Climate change, poverty and pandemics ("syndemics")
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and environmental change
  • Vector-borne diseases and biosecurity affected by climate change 
  • Food (and nutrition), soil and water quality and security 
  • Adaptation strategies in the built environment and healthy housing
  • Mental health effects of climate change and extreme events
  • Health effects of climate change in children and vulnerable groups
  • Climate change impacts on occupational health and labour productivity
  • Health sector sustainability and resilience to climate change