The Climate Emergency: Diagnosis and Management

The Climate Emergency: Diagnosis and Management

Hosted by the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment

Target Audience:

Physicians and all health care professionals, researchers, students and residents.

Course Format: Virtual Conference
  • Oct 30, 2020
Broadcast starts: 0800 PDT

Online from Vancouver BC


Online registration closes on Thurs, Oct 29 @ 8 PM.

Why is this conference important and why is it relevant to you?

The World Health Organization has stated that the climate crisis is the biggest health concern of the 21st century--and the Lancet has said that fighting climate change could be the greatest global health opportunity. If we do not make major changes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the next 10 years, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts catastrophic effects on the environment and human health. This conference will inspire us all in our health care roles to better understand these issues and advocate for necessary systemic change.

How will this conference look virtually?

  • Yes it’s true - many medical conferences can (and should be) conducted entirely online. This concept has enormous benefits in reducing the carbon footprint and making them more accessible to all. In addition to the usual lecture and workshop formats, we will include other features that make a conference complete such as live interactivity with your colleagues and lots of time for Q&A.
  • We have smaller simultaneous workshop sessions to enable participants to delve into areas of special interest and actively participate in discussions.
  • A poster session will highlight specific projects developed by participants prior to the meeting
  • We’ll offer the opportunity to visit with a group of businesses and organizations who do environmentally positive work.

What are our goals?

  • To share how to mitigate and adapt to the health effects of the looming climate crisis and spur you into action (from bite sized ideas– to major advocacy).
  • Featuring speakers with expertise in both climate change and health – giving you lots of time to ask questions!
  • We hope to create a group of health-care personnel with considerable knowledge of climate change issues, and skills to better advocate for change in medical and public spheres.
  • Gender diversity, minority representation, and support of Indigenous rights are necessary in any medical conference and we will aspire to achieve them.

Who should join us?

We expect that this conference will attract mainly physicians, but we suspect that it may be of interest to medical students, medical residents, and professionals in other health-oriented fields.

What does registration include?

Registration includes: Access to the live virtual event, all available materials, and access to the post-event recording. 

This year we are using a virtual platform which offers a more unique experience than just logging into Zoom!

  • Watch the lectures and have everything in one place (access to the slides, handouts, bios etc) 
  • Virtually move from session to session like you would do in person 
  • Virtually network with colleagues via text or video messaging
  • Connect with the speakers after their lecture is over
  • Access group video chat rooms where up to 5 people can connect at once
  • Visit the virtual exhibit hall to interact with organizations that are typically present during the in-person conference

Virtual Showcase submission is now closed! 
Late acceptance will be considered.

  • The Showcase will be an interactive portion of the event which is intended to increase knowledge sharing and knowledge translation between healthcare professionals and other interested interdisciplinary agencies.
  • We invite your participation and creativity.  Suggested formats include posters, pictures or videos. Audience members can click on your Showcase contributions and view them at their leisure. 

More details about the virtual showcase can be viewed here.

Hosted by:



Click Here for AGENDA

Titles subject to change

08:00–08:05 Welcome on behalf of Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) Robin Edger
Executive Director, CAPE
08:05–08:15 Introduction  Dr. Larry Barzelai

Our Carbon Footprint: A Measure of Eco-Overshoot and Threat to Population Health

  • To clarify the concept of the human ‘carbon footprint’ in the context of ecological overshoot
  • Explain the implications of a growing carbon footprint for climate change and human well-being
Dr. William Rees

Physicians are also Citizens: Creating Healthy One Planet Communities

  • Review the concept of the ecological determinants of health
  • Recognise the scale of the Anthropocene, the threat it poses to the health and wellbeing of the population and the need for a massive and rapid societal and economic transformation
  • Consider the implications of the role physicians can play as citizens in addressing these concerns and now they can help bring about the necessary societal transformation
Dr. Trevor Hancock

Mental Health Impacts of the Climate Crisis

  • Recognize the reality of the climate crisis (CC) and its impact on health.
  • Recognize psychiatric conditions and other MH impacts that emerge from and/or are affected by CC.
  • Recognize ethical and public health duties for mental health professionals to speak out about these threats and to advocate for rational policies to address the threats to health posed by CC.
  • Understand roles that psychiatrists and other mental health professionals should perform in facilitating recovery from immediate and longer-term CC related disasters.
  • Recognize how CC is a major social determinant of health and mental health and that building community resilience is a key component in the public mental health effort to address the health risks of CC.
Dr. David Pollack
09:45–10:00 Break  

Designing Healthcare Systems for Patient, Public, and Planetary Health

  • To make the case for planetary health as a component of healthcare quality
  • To empower clinicians to take meaningful climate action within their professional practice
  • To outline the components of a planetary healthcare system
Dr. Andrea MacNeill
10:30–10:35 Move to Workshops  
10:35–11:35 Workshop #1  

A) Enhancing the Resiliency of Rural Communities on Adapting to Climate Change

  • To summarize climate change and ecosystem disruption effects on rural community health 
  • To consider adaptive strategies designed to enhance the resiliency of rural and remote communities to climate change.
  • To brainstorm questions and ideas that will contribute to the sustainability of rural and remote communities in the face of the challenge of climate change. 
Dr. Stefan Grzybowski

B) From the Community to City Hall: How to Turn Your Passion for Advocacy Work into a Political Career

  • Be able to confidently employ their medical/ scientific/ health knowledge to influence policy with elected officials
  • Be able to examine their specific skills to feel empowered for running for a government position
  • Be able to articulate how the climate and social determinants of health impact your community for promoting a health equity lens in discussions
Amy Lubik, PhD

C) Important Environmental Issues in BC

  • Identify current environmental issues in BC
  • Assessing the health impact of a local environmental issue
  • Recognize opportunities to use our health care voice in addressing a local environmental issue
Dr. Larry Barzelai and Dr. Linda Thyer
11:35–11:40 Move to Workshops  
11:40–12:40 Workshop #2  

D) Practical Advocacy for Successfully Changing the World

  • How to prepare, deliver, and debrief an advocacy meeting
  • Introduction to media: op/eds, radio, TV
  • simple organizing tips for launching an advocacy campaign
Dr. Joe Vipond

E) Office Advocacy: Making the Climate Crisis Part of Your Practice

  • Show participants some of the basic health issues regarding climate change
  • Demonstrate ways in which office/clinic layouts and educational materials can address climate change with patients
  • Supply participants with a list of various documents to use in the office setting to draw attention to the climate crisis and actions to address it
Dr. Warren Bell

F) Transit, Health and the Climate Crisis

  • To describe the concept of car dependency to a lay audience
  • To identify the evidence illustrating the health and climate impacts of car dependency, and the benefits of active transport 
  • To prepare to counsel patients about active transport
  • To create a template letter that can be used to engage with decisionmakers to improve transport policy for health

Dr. Colin Sue-Chue-Lam and
Dr. Anna Gunz

12:40–13:05 Lunch  

Treating COVID-19 and Avoiding Future Pandemics Requires Transformative Change

At the end of this lecture, the learner will be able to:

  • explain how COVID-19 and other emerging diseases are a product of unsustainable relationships with animals, and unsustainable social systems
  • identify failures in COVID-responses involving preparation, early action, and integrated adaptive management that also exacerbate the climate and biodiversity crises
  • articulate the kind of transformative changes that are needed to meet these linked health, climate and biodiversity crises.
Prof. Kai Chan

Indigenous Health and Climate Crisis

  • To demonstrate how Indigenous constructs can be used discuss Climate Change.
  • To illustrate how the relationship with the land is a determinant of health.
  • To advocate for land-based activity and diet prescriptions to the families, communities, and policy makers that as physician we access.
Dr. Ojistoh Horn
14:05–14:10 Move to Workshops  
14:10–15:10 Workshop # 3  

G) Prescribing Nature 101: An Intervention to Improve Patient and Planetary Health

  • Describe and discuss key points from the current body of research on how connecting to nature improves human and planetary health
  • Identify best practices for motivating patients to connect to nature 
  • Gain practical skills for integrating nature prescriptions into their own practices 
Dr. Melissa Lem and Ms. Jennie McCaffrey

H) Why Bold Climate Activism by Healthcare Professionals is Needed

At the conclusion of this presentation, attendees will be able to:

  • Outline why bolder climate activism should be considered by healthcare professionals 
  • Describe what non-violent direct action is and how it has been effective through history
  • Appreciate the ethics and medicolegal aspects of bold climate activism
  • Design strategies that could be effective in amplifying the health angle of the climate and ecological emergency
  • Discuss working with the media to get press coverage
Dr. Rashmi Chadha, Dr. Chris Newman and Dr. Tim Takaro

I) How to Approach Climate Action—A Student Perspective

  • Gain a greater understanding of the climate crisis and the importance of the youth voice
  • Be more familiar with evolving advocacy techniques at different points in one's career
  • Learn how to be an effective advocate at the student level by leveraging institutional support and peer support
  • Recognize opportunities and barriers to climate advocacy in one’s own setting
  • To be able to critically evaluate different information sources on climate change and communicate effectively
  • Understand the importance of self reflection in advocacy work and value clarification
Dr. Kelly Lau, Austin Heffernan, Peter Singh and members of Sustainabiliteens (Lilah Williamson and Olivia Sinclare)
15:10–15:25 Break  

The Contributions of Equity Informed Evidence on Addressing the Health Impacts of Climate Change in Canada

  • To describe current equity-oriented approaches to measuring the health impacts of climate change on marginalized populations in Canada
  • To discuss key constraints and opportunities that exist in generating evidence of the health impacts of climate change in specific regions and populations in Canada
  • To identify some promising emerging practices in generating equity informed evidence-based approaches to addressing the health impacts of climate change in Canada
Maya Gislason, PhD

Why More Plant-Based Eating Will Help Your Patients and the Planet

  • Outline why and how clinicians can raise the often-difficult topic of healthy and sustainable eating.
  • briefly outline scientific evidence that certain dietary choices, including more vegetables and less processed foods, can lower greenhouse gases and at the same time act as preventive medicine.
  • Acquire brief and easy-to-use talking points, which will be made available in written form, that they can immediately apply with patients to improve personal well-being, public health and the climate.
Eleanor Boyle, PhD

Climate Mitigation and the Future of BC

  • Learn the evidence for BC's greatest climate-related threats to health
  • Understand the limits of adaptive capacity to climate-related health threats for BC
  • Discuss evidence for links between climate change and pandemics
Dr. Tim Takaro
16:55–17:00 Conclusion and Evaluations Dr. Larry Barzelai

Key Speakers

Larry Barzelai, MD, CAPE Board Member

Dr. Barzelai is a family physician, with a certification in family practice geriatrics. He is presently the chair of the BC branch of CAPE. The birth of his grandchildren has changed him from an armchair environmentalist to an active one

Melissa Lem, MD, CCFP, FCFP, CAPE Board Member

Dr. Melissa Lem is a Vancouver family physician who also works in rural and northern communities within Canada. As a board member of CAPE and Director of Parks Prescriptions for the BC Parks Foundation, she has been involved in advocacy and policy work on issues including climate change, forest fires, fracking and LNG, and the nature-health connection. She was the resident medical expert on CBC TV's Steven and Chris for 5 seasons and continues to educate diverse audiences on air. Her writing has been published by national media including the CBC, Vancouver Sun, Toronto Star, Montreal Gazette, Narwhal and National Observer.  

Warren Bell, BA, MDCM, CCFP, FCFP (LM), CAPE Board Member

Family doctor for over 40 years in Salmon Arm, BC, and past founding president of CAPE 25 years ago. Engaged in advocacy work from the municipal to the international level. His integrative practice includes insight-oriented psychotherapy.

Amy Anne Lubik, PhD

 Amy Anne Lubik is first term city councilor in Port Moody BC, where she has been a vocal advocate for climate change resilience, poverty reduction, and health equity. Shortly after being elected she became the vice-chair of the Climate Action Committee, chair of the Environmental Protection Committee, Co-chair of the Tri-Cities Healthy Community Partnership Table, helped found the Tri-Cities Food Security Working Group and served on the age-friendly planning steering committee and the affordable housing task force. She is also an active member of the Climate Caucus, a nationwide organization of local elected officials and environmental campaigners seeking to change federal and provincial policies.

Eleanor Boyle, PhD

Eleanor Boyle is an author and speaker. A former journalist and college psychology instructor, Eleanor has degrees in psychology (BA), neuroscience (PhD), and more recently food policy (MSc). Eleanor wrote the book High Steaks: Why and How to Eat Less Meat (New Society Publishers), and will soon publish Mobilize Food! Wartime Inspiration for Environmental Victory Today. 

Andrea MacNeill, MD MSc, FRCSC

Dr. Andrea MacNeill is a surgical oncologist at Vancouver General Hospital and BC Cancer, and a clinical associate professor at the University of British Columbia where she specializes in sarcoma and peritoneal malignancies.  She holds a Master’s Degree in Environmental Change and Management and has published a number of studies investigating the environmental impacts of healthcare activities.  She co-authored the 2019 Lancet Countdown policy brief for Canada showing that Canada has the third highest health sector emissions in the world.  She is the international working group lead for sustainable healthcare for CODA, a global health community mobilizing around climate and health issues.  She is committed to designing health systems for optimal planetary health and educating health professionals to be agents of change.

Rashmi Chadha, MBChB, MScCH, CCFP (AM), FASAM, ABAM, MRCGP (Dist.), DRCOG, DCH 

Dr. Rashmi Chadha grew up in the undulating hills of Wiltshire (UK) and after qualifying as a physician, worked in rural Devon as a GP for many years. A fellowship in addiction medicine in Toronto and subsequent move to Vancouver led to her current work as an addictions physician at Vancouver General Hospital. Her passion always has, and always will be, this earth we all inhabit. 

Jennie McCaffrey, Principal Consultant and Owner of Engaging Change Consulting

Jennie is an educator focused on facilitating connections to nature through a place-based lens, and inspiring behaviour change for the health of our planet and ourselves. Jennie is an experienced project manager, and specializes in collaborating with non-profit organizations, provincial and federal government, school districts and industry groups that aim to change behaviours and empower people to protect the environment. Most recently Jennie worked with the BC Parks Foundation to launch the Healthy By Nature initiative and installed BC’s first Story Trail in Tsútswecw Provincial Park.

Kai Chan, Professor, PhD, CHANS Lab (Connecting Human and Natural Systems), Coordinating Lead Author, IPBES Global Assessment

Kai Chan is a sustainability scientist whose work straddles social and natural systems with a focus on values and transformative change. He is a professor at the University of British Columbia, a member of the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists (2017), a Coordinating Lead Author of the IPBES Global Assessment, a Lead Editor for the new journal People and Nature, a member of Canada’s Clean16 for 2020, and co-founder of CoSphere (a Community of Small-Planet Heroes).

David A. Pollack, MD, Professor Emeritus for Public Policy, Department of Psychiatry and Division of Management, Oregon Health and Science University

David Pollack, M.D., is Professor Emeritus for Public Policy in the departments of Psychiatry, Family Medicine, and the Division of Management at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU). His activities include teaching, writing, and consulting on policy, systems, and health care leadership issues for local, state, and national organizations.

Trevor Hancock, MD, Hon FFPH

Dr. Hancock is public health physician and recently retired from his position as a Professor and Senior Scholar at the School of Public Health and Social Policy, University of Victioria. In the 1980s he helped create the global healthy cities movement, and has been an internationally recognised leader in this area for more than 30 years. In recent years he has focused on the concept of a 'One Planet' community/region as a way to integrate the concepts of healthy and sustainable communities, and in retirement has started a new NGO, Conversations for a One Planet Region, to explore and popularise these ideas locally.

William Rees, PhD, FRSC

William Rees is a population ecologist, ecological economist, Professor Emeritus and former Director of the University of British Columbia’s School of Community and Regional Planning. He is a founding member and former President of the Canadian Society for Ecological Economics; a founding Director of the One Earth Initiative; a Fellow of the Post-Carbon Institute and a Director of The Real Green New Deal Project. Prof Rees’ research focuses on the biophysical requirements for sustainability and the policy implications of global ecological trends. He is perhaps best known as the originator and co-developer with his graduate students, of ‘ecological footprint analysis’ (EFA) of which carbon footprint assessment is a subset. 

Austin Heffernan, B.MSc., MD Candidate 2023, Vancouver Fraser Medical Program

Austin is currently a second year medical student at the University of British Columbia Vancouver Fraser Medical Program. His interest in climate action began when he was in high school where he first learned the impact of climate change on human health, this motivated him to take steps to reduce his carbon footprint. This lead him to become an executive member of UBC EnviroMed and an active member of CAPE BC, where he has planned impactful events, climate rallies, education campaigns, and more.

Tim Takaro, BS Biology, MD/MPH, MSc

Dr. Takaro is a physician-scientist trained in occupational and environmental medicine, public health and toxicology, at Yale, the University of North Carolina and University of Washington. His research is primarily directed toward the links between human exposures and disease, and determining public health based preventive solutions to such risks. His work includes use of biological and other markers for medical surveillance, exposure assessment, and disease susceptibility with a focus on immunologic lung disease, human health and war, clinical occupational and environmental health and population resiliency in the health effects of climate change. Current research on human health and climate change focus on water quality in BC communities and the interaction of cumulative exposures related to resource extraction and climate change.

Ojistoh Horn, MD

Ojistoh Kahnawahere Horn is a Mohawk physician working in Akwesasne, a community of 25,000 people straddling the American-Canadian and Ontario-Quebec borders.  As a traditional minded woman, mother, family physician, and student of history and politics, she will describe how the relationship of her people to the land changed due to environmental pollution and resulted in poor health outcomes.  She will describe how the current pandemic is forcing more people in her community to reengage with the Earth.  The Climate Emergency is about recognizing that for the most part, the human relationship with the Earth is unbalanced, unhealthy, and not sustainable.  We should support our patients to engage with the natural world. To spend time outside.  By supporting our cognitive selves with a stronger emotional, physical, and spiritual connection to the Earth, we can engender more creative advocates to speak for the Earth, who is trying desperately to speak for herself. 

Joe Vipond, MD, Interim President of CAPE

Joe Vipond has worked as an emergency physician for nineteen years, currently at the Rockyview General Hospital. He has been active on the climate crisis since learning of its repercussions 15 years ago . His first advocacy campaign was as a  spokesperson for the Alberta Coal Phase Out movement, and more recently, the Canadian Coal Phase Out network, and with these has had an impact on approximately 66 MT of greenhouse gas emissions, or 9% of Canada's total GHGs. He is a board member and Interim President of the national charity Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.  He is also the co-founder and co-chair of the local non-profit the Calgary Climate Hub. Joe grew up in Calgary and continues to live there with his wife and two daughters.

Lilah Williamson, Sustainabiliteens and Climate Strike Canada Lead

Lilah Williamson is a 16 year old high school student and climate activist. She has always been passionate about the environment, but the impending catastrophic effects of unmitigated climate change motivated her to act. In January 2019 she organized one of the first global climate strikes in Vancouver with a team of young people, later called the Sustainabiliteens. Lilah now leads Sustainabiliteens and Climate Strike Canada and believes in the power of youth voices and people coming together to stop the climate crisis.

Colin Sue-Chue-Lam, MD

Colin Sue-Chue-Lam is a resident physician and doctoral student in clinical epidemiology at the University of Toronto. He is active with the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment - Ontario Chapter, where he helps organize the divestment subcommittee. He is also the Strategy Director of Emerging Leaders for Environmental Sustainability in Healthcare, a multidisciplinary student group dedicated to education and advocacy at the intersection of health, healthcare, and sustainability to foster the development of health sector leaders in sustainability.

Olivia Sinclare, Sustainabiliteens Youth Organizer

Olivia Sinclare is a 17 year old high school student and climate organizer with Sustainabiliteens. Interested in the environment from a young age, she was spurred into action by the urgent climate emergency. Olivia first joined Sustainabiliteens in October of 2019, and now leads the group with her fellow youth activists. She is passionate about how we can implement regular climate action within the school environment, empower youth to make change, and educate each other.

Maya Gislason, BA, MA, PhD, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University

Maya Gislason is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University (SFU) and faculty lead in teaching and research on the Social Inequalities in Health. With degrees in Women’s Studies and Sociology, Gislason is building Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) informed evidence generating tools for research on sustainability with a particular focus on rural, remote, northern, island and Indigenous communities in Canada. Serving as a Sex and Gender Champion on tri-agency funded research, EDI advisor to SFU, and member of the Sex and Gender Champions Community of Practice in Canada, Gislason is actively engaged in the dynamic space of GBA+ research and policy formation. 



  Early Bird by Oct 13 After Oct 13
Standard Fee $199 $275
Student/Resident $25 $35

All fees are in Canadian dollars. Fees are subject to 5% GST.

Fees include access to the live virtual event, all available materials, and the post-event recording.

Cancellations and Refunds

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