Make a positive change for health this Earth Day

Climate health and human health are inextricably linked so this Earth Day 2024 the team at Aurora has been reflecting on what more we can do to protect our planet and make it a healthier place to live, both through our own actions and how we advise our clients.

Climate change is no longer a distant threat reserved for scientific debates or future generations. Its effects are manifesting now, with profound implications for human health. The relationship between climate change and health is multifaceted and complex, affecting various aspects of physical and mental well-being.

The WHO says, “Climate change is impacting human lives and health in a variety of ways. It threatens the essential ingredients of good health – clean air, safe drinking water, nutritious food supply, and safe shelter – and has the potential to undermine decades of progress in global health.”

Just think about that for a second. The decades of progress made in health diagnosis, treatment and care, diminished by the way we live our lives and treat the planet. It’s one step forward and two steps back. No wonder it’s the decade of action!

The facts are frightening. A quarter of all deaths (an estimated 14 million) globally are linked to the environment and 99% of the world’s population lives in places where air pollution levels exceed WHO guideline limits.

The impact of climate change on public health

One of the most immediate consequences of climate change is extreme weather events such as floods, hurricanes, heatwaves, and wildfires, which are increasing in scale, intensity, and frequency. These events not only cause immediate injuries and fatalities but also disrupt healthcare systems and infrastructure, leading to long-term health consequences. Heatwaves, for instance, can exacerbate cardiovascular and respiratory conditions, particularly among vulnerable populations such as the elderly and those with pre-existing health issues.

Climate change also contributes to the spread of infectious diseases. Rising temperatures and changes in weather patterns create favourable conditions for mosquitoes and ticks. This has led to the spread of diseases like malaria, dengue fever, and Lyme disease into regions where they were previously uncommon. Additionally, extreme weather events can compromise sanitation systems, leading to waterborne illnesses such as cholera and typhoid.

What can we do?

This might all seem too big for us to do anything meaningful about, especially as a small to medium-sized enterprise (SME). But at Aurora we believe that we have a responsibility – morally and legally – to do what we can to minimise the harm we do to the planet and change our practices to contribute to the NetZero target by 2050. After all, we have always had the ambition to improve lives and prove it. We have the opportunity to do this through our client work too, ensuring social and environmental considerations are central to our campaigns, and being mindful of business travel.

Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases through better transport, food and energy use choices can result in huge gains for health, particularly through reduced air pollution.

So, in 2020 we started by measuring our carbon emissions, working with PlanetMark, an internationally recognised third-party sustainability certification organisation. Having achieved PlanetMark certification in 2021, we pledged to reduce our carbon footprint year-on-year, through energy efficiency measures, transitioning to renewable energy sources, and adopting sustainable practices throughout our operations.  For example, when moving office, we were able to select a company that exclusively uses renewable power sources. Workspace also marks Earth Day through sustainable events to get everyone involved.

This year, we have committed to measuring Scope 3 emissions, which cover all indirect emissions throughout our entire value chain, including staff commuting and purchased goods and services.

Beyond measuring, we educate our team to think more sustainably in their day-to-day work, for instance, when and how to travel, how to reduce waste and printing, and we try to use local suppliers where possible. We have discovered it is possible to contribute to the NetZero target collectively and individually.

Through PlanetMark certification we also know that we currently positively affect seven of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the “Global Goals”. We contribute to climate action, sustainable cities and communities, and responsible consumption and production, among others. This is important to our business, our team, our clients, all living things, and the planet.

Climate change poses a significant threat to public health, with far-reaching consequences for individuals and communities around the world. Recognising the interconnectedness of climate and health is crucial in mobilising effective responses to mitigate these impacts and safeguarding the health and well-being of current and future generations. All businesses have a vital role to play in this effort, and by taking proactive steps to reduce our environmental impact and promote health equity, we can contribute to a more sustainable and resilient future for all.

If you would like to know more about our environmental efforts or would like to know how we are helping clients in this space, please get in touch.