Climate, Energy and Health (CEH) Special Interest Group (SIG)

Who are we?

A network of practitioners, decision-makers, researchers, lobbyists, students and academics, among others, working in the fields of public health, energy and fossil fuels, and climate vulnerability and change. We are based at different institutions and organisations around South Africa, including the health system, universities, NGOs, research councils, health professional organisations and civil society organisations.

Joint PHASA-UCT seminar on Climate Change and Science Denialism Part 1


Joint PHASA-UCT seminar on Climate Change and Science Denialism Part 2

Why climate, energy and health?

Direct and indirect climate-related health impacts are being experienced all around the world including southern Africa. The impacts of current El Nino of 2015/2016, for example, on drought and heat waves are already evidenced by severe water shortages and crop failures. In addition to addressing the acute effects of these major events, long-term, chronic impacts also require attention particularly as the predicted increase in ambient temperature for southern Africa is 4 degrees Celsius by the 21st Century. By causing or intensifying extreme weather events, food and water insecurity, and the migration of infectious diseases, climate change exacerbates existing public health challenges globally and in southern Africa.

Fossil fuels are responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. The production of fossil fuel-based energy creates co-pollutants that pose marked public health risks to local and regional populations. Fossil fuel combustion is the largest source of air pollution, which was responsible for approximately 7 million premature deaths in 2012, making it the world’s largest environmental health risk.

Leading medical journals and health professional organizations have endorsed the evidence and amplified the message that air pollution and climate change pose serious challenges to global public health and therefore must be addressed as public health issues. Strategies to mitigate climate change – including shifting to low-carbon and clean sources of energy production – can yield significant co-benefits to public health such as reductions in heart disease, respiratory disease, and cancer.

Goal of the CEH SIG

The main goal of this SIG is to bring together public health experts, climate modellers and experts, and also experts from other relevant disciplines to understand the intersection of climate, energy, and health in southern Africa, in order to facilitate multi-disciplinary research and provide evidence for informed policy development and decision-making across the region.

CEH Community of Practice

The South African and global public health community has a unique opportunity to serve as an interlocutor between the scientific evidence on the harmful effects of fossil fuel-based energy generation and the health benefits of policies that mitigate air pollution and climate change by transitioning to clean, renewable energy and other low-carbon strategies. In addition, the adaptation responses to climate change are both diverse, and in some instances, themselves with risk to health. The SIG, through its research, advocacy and multi-disciplinary approaches within PHASA, provides an opportunity to address the impacts of these interventions on health outcomes. Together, we aim to meeting the following objectives:

  1. Provide information on climate, energy, and health to the broader South African society through various media through PHASA;
  2. Engage for a broad cross-section of health sector partners to advocate for healthy energy policy, prevent climate and air pollution-related diseases, and promote approaches for healthy living and partnering with other civil society organisations and providing support and advocacy for affected communities;
  3. Host meetings, workshops or symposia aligned to climate, energy, and health topics for researchers, health practitioners and students, as well as affected / vulnerable communities;
  4. Help co-ordinate collaboration between researchers, especially those from different disciplines and encouraging its members to publish research articles and relevant materials;
  5. Advocate for health impact assessment and health economic evaluations to be integrated in decision-making on energy projects and energy policy i.e., with considerations for worker safety and health; environmental impacts; air, soil and water pollution; displacement of communities; economic and social disruption; health equity concerns; and contribution to climate change; and
  6. Encourage PHASA to seek out partnerships with complementary global health and climate movements.

How to join this group?

Any PHASA member with a keen interest in climate, energy and health is welcome to join the CEH SIG. To register as a PHASA member, complete the online registration form  and select the CEH SIG under the Special Interest Groups section. Existing PHASA members who did not sign up for the SIG during the initial registration can update their profiles on the PHASA website.

Contact us

Interim Chair: Caradee Wright PhD, Specialist Scientist, Environment and Health Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council

Deputy Chair: Associate Prof Rajen Naidoo, Discipline of Occupational and Environmental Health, School of Nursing and Public Health, University of KwaZulu-Natal

Deputy Chair: Ricco Euripidou, GroundWorks.

Useful links

  1. The original 2009 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change:
  2. The 2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change maps out the impacts of climate change, and the necessary policy responses, to ensure the highest attainable standards of health for populations worldwide.
  3. 2015 Lancet Commission Climate change and health video
  4. The Healthy Energy Initiative is a global collaboration of health professionals, health organizations, and health researchers engaging in science-based advocacy for a move away from fossil fuel-based power generation—particularly coal—and toward clean, renewable, healthy energy options.
  5. WHO: Public health, environmental and social determinants of health (PHE): and
  6. WHO Climate change and health:


PHASA Conference 2017

Healthy people through action on the social & environmental determinants of health in a changing climate.

 The Climate, Energy, and Health Special Interest Group

PHASA congress, September 6th 2017


Rationale for the session:

The profound threat to human health from global warming and resulting climate change is among the greatest challenges to public health as we enter the Anthropocene. The key drivers to global warming are from energy generation from fossil fuels, and coal in particular. The public health community is ideally placed to take leadership and to provide clear guidance to mitigate these effects and protect thousands of lives of South Africans at risk as well from the air pollution inherent in these processes. These risks too fall unevenly on the poor within countries and poor nations globally. We must commit to sustainable and renewable energy technologies.

Agenda Items
10:00–10:10 Welcome and introductions
10.10–10.30 Caradee Wright: Overview of the PHASA CEH SIG and the recent global evidence on the environmental determinants on health in a changing climate”
10.30–11.00 Mike Holland: Measuring the health impacts of coal fired power plants in South Africa
11.00–11.30 James Irlam: Climate change, air pollution and health in South Africa
11.30–11.50 Rico Euripidou: The role of the health sector to advocate for healthy energy policy and new insights into the direction of public health
11.50–12.10 Any other business

Climate, Energy and Health – Caradee Y Wright


Climate Change, Air Pollution and Health in South Africa – Eugene Cairncross, Aqiel Dalvie, Rico Euripidou, James Irlam, Rajen Naidoo

CCAP update for PHASA 2017_Sep 6

Health Impacts of coal-fired power generation in South Africa – Mike Hollard

M Holland groundWork September 2017

Environmental Determinants of Health, Global evidence in a changing climate – Caradee Y Wright


The role of the health sector to advocate for healthy energy policy and new insights into the direction of public health – Rico Euripidou

Rico Euripidou – The role of the health sector to advocate for healthy energy policy and new insights into the direction of public health