We can prevent health harms with quick action on climate

Australian Medical Association

AMA President called for an ambitious national response to climate change at Better Futures Forum. 

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid spoke to delegates about the AMA’s leadership in advocating for climate action on health grounds at the three-day online event this week organised by Better Futures Australia. The forum was opened by former Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban-Ki Moon.

“As doctors, we’ve recognised for a long time that this emerging threat has serious health consequences for our patients and communities,” Dr Khorshid said on Day one of the forum with the theme Ambition for a healthy, prosperous, zero emissions Australian.

“We make some clear recommendations to government: Facilitate an active transition to renewable energy; develop a national climate change and health strategy to enable mitigation, adaptation and preparedness; and clearly communicate the health benefits of climate action.

The AMA also endorses an 80 per cent reduction in healthcare sector emissions by 2030, and net zero emissions in the Australian health sector by 2040.

“Emissions reduction targets are an important way for the Government to signal they are serious about mitigating climate change, and we believe they’re necessary on health grounds. We’ll keep pushing for emissions reduction and a transition to renewables because the health benefits are so clear,” Dr Khorshid said.

“The release of the IPCC’s latest assessment report made headlines around the world. Headlines, frankly, that we’ve come to expect – filled with words like ‘unprecedented’, ‘catastrophe’, ‘unavoidable’, ‘extinction’. Of course, as a doctor, it’s terrifying to think about the health consequences that are coming -and that are already occurring. But I think they key message we must take away is – it is not too late.

“We can still prevent health harms by acting quickly to reduce emissions, and by preparing our health systems and populations for the risks we can’t avoid. With COP26 coming up in a few months, this is a crucial time for the medical and health community to keep up the sustained pressure on the Australian Government to take more ambitious action.

“The AMA is proud to be standing alongside other organisations, like the Climate and Health Alliance, the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association, Doctors for the Environment, and the medical colleges, in doing this.

“Events like the forum we’re at today are important to send a message to Government – we are here, we want action, and we’re not going away,” Dr Khorshid said.

The Path to a healthy and resilient Australia panel also included Dr Fiona Armstrong (Founder and Executive Director of the Climate and Health Alliance); Dr Kathryn Bowen (Deputy Director at Melbourne Climate Futures and Professor of Environment, Climate and Global Health at the University of Melbourne); The Hon Meaghan Scanlon MP (Queensland Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef); and Ms Monica Barolits-McCabe (CEO of the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association).

/AMA/AusMed News. This material from the originating organization/author(s) may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s).