Norfolk Island Carbon/Health Evaluation Study
Norfolk Island Carbon-Health Elavuation StudyNorfolk Island Carbon-Health Elavuation Study

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Orlem ai orn Norf'k. Liiden d' wieh tu wan sastienebl fyuutcha.

(All eyes on Norfolk, leading the way to a sustainable future)

What is NICHE?

The Norfolk Island Carbon / Health Evaluation (NICHE) trial is a world first study testing the theory that if you reduce your individual carbon footprint you can improve your health. The study offers a potential solution to deal with 2 of the world's biggest problems, the growing obesity epidemic and increasing carbon pollution.


It has been suggested in the literature that if you live a carbon intensive lifestyle, where you have replaced the physical demands of everyday life with carbon emitting technology (ie always drive instead of walk, use the elevator instead of stairs, etc.) and you regularly consume highly processed foods, that this is both detrimental to your health (through the increased risk of obesity and associated chronic disease) as well damaging to the environment through carbon pollution.

Carbon Trading is currently being considered as a means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and their environmental effects. To date, attention has focused primarily on a Carbon Tax, to provide ‘upstream’ reductions in emissions. However, 40-60% of emissions come from individuals and households.

This has led to proposals for a more ‘downstream’ system involving Personal Carbon Trading (PCT). In addition to modifying greenhouse gas emissions (and particularly carbon), PCT has been suggested as a possible way of improving health, in particular by reducing obesity and chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes (1-3).

The NICHE program is a world-first, Australian Research Council (ARC) funded study to test this in a relatively closed (eg. island) system over a three year period. The proposal has been developed by three Australian universities, based on proposals developed initially in the United Kingdom


The main goal is to test attitudes (and hence acceptability) of an incentive scheme for saving energy and reducing a community’s carbon footprint. Another goal is to test the theory that if you become more environmentally conscious this can have a positive impact on your health through better health behaviours (ie more exercise and healthy diet).

Why Norfolk Island?

Norfolk Island was proposed as the first real test of Personal Carbon Trading in the world. It was chosen after twelve months of consultations with the Government and public of Norfolk because

  1. It is a relatively ‘closed’ system, being an island
  2. Norfolk Island residents already adopt a number of sustainable agriculture practices and are very energy (fuel and electricity) conscious. Approx. 1/3 of all houses use solar power.
  3. It is demographically similar to much of Australia
  4. It is a self-governing Australian protectorate off the coast of NSW.
  5. It would be a model for other world programs.


  1. Stott R. Healthy response to climate change. British Medical Journal 2006;332: 1385-1387.
  2. Egger G. Personal carbon trading: A potential ‘stealth intervention’ for obesity reduction? Medical Journal of Australia 2007;187: 185-187.
  3. Egger G. Dousing our inflammatory environment(s): Is personal carbon trading an option for reducing obesity – and climate change? Obesity Reviews 2008; 9(5): 456-463.




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Norfolk Island leads the way on a personalised carbon trading scheme
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