This summer’s bushfires brought the realities of climate change home to many Victorians in a way that melting glaciers couldn’t. I saw this first-hand when I visited many of the towns that no longer stood, and met with our people who helped evacuate vulnerable residents, even as their own homes burned.
As smoke from the fires blanketed Melbourne and regional cities and air quality plummeted to hazardous levels, we saw a 51 percent spike in calls for help for breathing problems in one night.
Working on the frontline of emergency response has a way of helping you focus on the things that really matter in life. The fact that I keep coming back to with every catastrophic weather or health event: climate change is not only an environmental and economic issue – climate change is a health issue.
At Ambulance Victoria, we’re committed to delivering best care to the communities we serve, and it’s important to focus on what best care actually means. To me, it means giving our best not only to the community but to the issues that impact them, including climate change.
We don’t take that commitment lightly. The Board, my executive team and many others at AV believe we have a moral contract with Victorians to build a socially responsible business that leads by example. To us, being a good organisational citizen means having an unwavering focus on providing world class health care and social leadership.
That’s why AV is proud to be one of the first health services to have an Action Plan genuinely aimed at limiting warming. We have a vision to source 100% of our energy requirements from renewable sources by 2025. This would mean a 27% reduction of our overall emissions profile; no mean feat for an organisation that services the entire state 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
To reach this goal, we’ve just signed a power purchase agreement for AV sites that are high electricity users. On 1 July, our larger sites switched to 100% GreenPower™ accredited renewable energy from a Victorian wind farm. This represents a 7% reduction in our overall emissions.
Sourcing 100% of AV’s energy requirements from renewable electricity is an important part of our transition to become net zero carbon by 2050.
While there are a lot of steps to get us there, we’re on our way. Our Sustainability team is working hard on our Action Plan and we’ll continue to share our journey with you.
Assoc Prof Tony Walker ASM
Chief Executive Officer, Ambulance Victoria