HESTA Super Fund and the Australian Medical Association (AMA) have joined over 55 health and medical groups in signing an open letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, calling on the federal government to scale up emissions reduction strategies to prevent premature deaths and declining health outcomes associated with climate change.
Air pollution from fossil fuels kills 5,700 Australians annually, and the Australian megafires of 2019-20 killed 33 people directly and sent over 4,000 people to hospital suffering ill effects from the associated smoke pollution. According to health groups, ambitious climate action will “unlock substantial benefits from a healthier and more prosperous society.”
The open letter calls for three key actions from the federal government:
Prioritise health in Australia’s Nationally Determined Contribution to the Paris Agreement;
Commit to decarbonising the healthcare sector by 2040, and establishing an Australian Sustainable Healthcare Unit; and,
Implement a National Strategy on Climate, Health and Wellbeing for Australia.
Climate and Health Alliance Executive Director Fiona Armstrong said, “The signatories of this letter include major stakeholders in Australia’s largest economic sector: health and social services, which employ over 1.5 million people. We are collectively urging the government to heed these calls to avert an escalating health crisis from climate change.”
Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven said, “We witnessed firsthand the direct and indirect health impact of climate change during the Black Summer bushfires and again this year during the NSW floods. This letter demonstrates the health sector’s commitment to addressing climate change, and it’s time our leaders matched this commitment.”
Joining HESTA and the AMA in signing the letter are another 55 organisations, including Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association, NSW Nurses and Midwives Association, Doctors for the Environment Australia, and the Climate and Health Alliance. See the full list of signatories below.
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