The 2022 report of the MJA–Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: Australia unprepared and paying the price

Paul J. Beggs*, Ying Zhang, Alice McGushin, Stefan Trueck, Martina K. Linnenluecke, Hilary Bambrick, Anthony G. Capon, Sotiris Vardoulakis, Donna Green, Arunima Malik, Ollie Jay, Maddie Heenan, Ivan C. Hanigan, Sharon Friel, Mark Stevenson, Fay H. Johnston, Celia McMichael, Fiona Charlson, Alistair J. Woodward, Marina B. Romanello

*Corresponding author for this work

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- The MJA–Lancet Countdown on health and climate change in Australia was established in 2017 and produced its first national assessment in 2018 and annual updates in 2019, 2020 and 2021. It examines five broad domains: climate change impacts, exposures and vulnerability; adaptation, planning and resilience for health; mitigation actions and health co-benefits; economics and finance; and public and political engagement. In this, the fifth year of the MJA–Lancet Countdown, we track progress on an extensive suite of indicators across these five domains, accessing and presenting the latest data and further refining and developing our analyses.

- Within just two years, Australia has experienced two unprecedented national catastrophes — the 2019–2020 summer heatwaves and bushfires and the 2021–2022 torrential rains and flooding. Such events are costing lives and displacing tens of thousands of people. Further, our analysis shows that there are clear signs that Australia’s health emergency management capacity substantially decreased in 2021.

- We find some signs of progress with respect to health and climate change. The states continue to lead the way in health and climate change adaptation planning, with the Victorian plan being published in early 2022. At the national level, we note progress in health and climate change research funding by the National Health and Medical Research Council. We now also see an acceleration in the uptake of electric vehicles and continued uptake of and employment in renewable energy.

- However, we also find Australia’s transition to renewables and zero carbon remains unacceptably slow, and the Australian Government’s continuing failure to produce a national climate change and health adaptation plan places the health and lives of Australians at unnecessary risk today, which does not bode well for the future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-458
Number of pages20
JournalMedical Journal of Australia
Issue number9
Early online date26 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2022. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • climate change
  • health communication
  • health financing
  • health policy
  • morbidity
  • mortality
  • population health
  • risk management


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