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Prime7: CSG meeting

DEA members Dr Helen Redmond, Dr Geralyn McCarron and Prof Melissa Haswell recently spoke at a public health forum on coal seam gas exploration and the potentially serious damage this can have on health. The timely event took place in Narrabri, NSW, which is the centre of a proposed $3 billion gas operation.  Dr McCarron and Prof Haswell were interviewed on Prime7 about their concerns. 

Independent Australia: The NEG and the "idiocy" of COALition climate change wars

Some members of the Coalition are in a state of denial — denial in the face of the global consequences of climate change, writes DEA's Dr Graeme McLeay.  Heatwaves and wildfires in the Northern Hemisphere are killing people and drought is again ravaging rural communities in Australia. Yet we are now in a surreal world where consequences and causes are disconnected, where science is ignored in the face of existential threats and where building coal-fired power stations is viewed by some in Government – such as former PM Abbott, Member for Hughes Craig Kelly and Resource Minister Matt Canavan, among others – as some sort of an answer to Australia’s future.

The Guardian: Dirty coal: health fears of a town covered in dust from disused power station

A flawed rehabilitation of an ash dam has blown coal dust across Port Augusta (SA) and its 14,000 residents for the last two years, reports The Guardian. DEA's Honorary Secretary Dr David Shearman, who is quoted in this story, says the likely mixture of dust and small particles could pose a risk to locals’ health. 

Media release NEG “plus”: We need a national plan on power—but not one that’s toxic to health, urge doctors

Doctors are making a last minute plea to politicians at tomorrow’s Coalition party room meeting to reject proposals underwriting investment on new coal power plants in exchange for support of  the NEG national power plan, as this hazardous fuel would lead to more deaths and illness.

DEA on the ABC's Matter Of Fact With Stan Grant program

Did you see the ABC’s Matter Of Fact program on Australia’s preparedness for extreme weather events? DEA’s WA Chair Dr George Crisp, one of the experts on the panel, spoke about the health toll of climate change;  the Government’s continued inaction on curbing global warming in the face of local and international extreme weather events; challenged  myths about the so-called costs of power; and also highlighted that the solution to the climate chaos is not a technical issue but a political one.

Media release: Reject the NEG, urge doctors

Doctors urge energy ministers ahead of the COAG meeting on Friday to “reject absolutely” the current National Energy Guarantee proposal, as it will delay the necessary decarbonisation needed to stabilise rising emissions that are contributing to the harrowing extreme weather events in Australia and globally. 

The “C” word that must be uttered

Climate change is fundamentally a health issue. Doctors' groups need to face up to this truth and divest from hazardous fossil fuels, which are one of the primary drivers of rising temperatures, writes DEA's Richard Yin in this piece for doctorportal.

Text of letter on divestment sent to Royal Colleges (apart from RACP) and other doctors' organisations

In welcome news, the American Medical Association recently voted to divest their financial holdings from fossil fuel companies. To date the only major medical organisation in Australia to move its investments from these hazardous fuels has been the RACP. DEA has written to the AMA, RACGP, RACS, ANZCA, ACEM, RANZCOG, RANZCP, ACRMM urging them to divest from fossil fuels and signal their commitment to action on climate change. Read the letter HERE.

Save Our Sands: Mining in Rural Communities

Many regional communities in NSW are affected by mining, which is a very distant and abstract concept to people in urban areas. In Sydney, people don’t engage with the health and environmental issues mining creates – they don’t think it affects them. But what happens when Government approves a mine that does affect Sydney, in particular, its drinking water?

ABC online: Australia's climate change adaptation plan is non-existent

The recently released UK climate plan should be compulsory reading for the Australian Government, because we have no such plan, writes Dr David Shearman who poignantly highlights that: "Considering the lives that will be lost, this is negligence in medical terms. And as a doctor, it concerns me greatly: all doctors recognise the vital need for adaptation to manage the growing health risks of climate change." Read more HERE.

The Advertiser: Mayo issues

As various political parties increase their electioneering efforts in today's Super Saturday by-elections in Brisbane, north-west Tasmania, Perth, Fremantle and the Adelaide Hills,  DEA doctors in South Australia  list the vital issues for Mayo in a poignant letter to the Adelaide Advertiser. Read more HERE.

The Mercury: National energy policy failing our community

THE Coalition’s rush to implement the National Energy Guarantee looks set to lock in a continued reliance on fossil fuels for our energy-- despite clean alternatives, writes DEA's Dr Rohan ChurchWhile Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull may claim to be "technology-agnostic" when it comes to securing our energy, it's impossible to remain agnostic when faced with the significant disease burden from coal-fired power generation. Read more HERE.

Blue Mountains Gazette: EPA to monitor air quality in Blue Mountains

The NSW Environment Protection Authority will monitor the Blue Mountains' air quality for the first time after strong pressure from the community, including doctors, about the uncovered coal trains travelling up and down the Mountains. Read more HERE.

Environmental Sustainability & Healthcare: What do Health Professionals Need to Know?

Every doctor needs to view this superb presentation by Katherine Barraclough at ANZ Association for Health Professional Educators. It details why environmental sustainability is core business for health professionals and an essential part of health education.

ACCC power pricing report: COALition's excuse for more coal

With the release last week of the ACCC report on power prices, it hasn't taken long for the pro-coal faction to start speaking out. However overlooked and ignored, once again, is the health costs. DEA's Graeme McLeay explains in this article in Independent Australia

Healthy changes can help address climate challenge

A health system with greater focus on preventing illness and promoting health, the judicious use of resources, less waste and low-carbon models of care will have health, financial and environmental benefits across Australia. Peter Sainsbury President of CAHA and DEA member Kate Charlesworth detail the action all doctors can take. Read the article in the Examiner.

Proposed changes to timber harvesting in NSW’s coastal forests

Former Premier of NSW Bob Carr is dismayed by Berejiklian's environmental vandalismIn this submission DEA details just one aspect of this destruction - forest clearance. See below for the DEA submission to the NSW government on this issue and note the previous two recent articles from John van der Kallen on this topic. 

Download DEA's submission regarding the proposed changes to timber harvesting in NSW’s coastal forests

Croakey: Victoria's environmental laws shift the posts on pollution 

Amid so much news of regulatory failure when it comes to protecting planetary health, at least some positive developments are on the way in Victoria, according to Dr John Iser, the Victorian chair of Doctors for the Environment Australia. He suggests there has been a “fundamental shift in ethos” at Victoria’s Environment Protection Authority (EPA), to position the organisation as “a strong protector of human health resulting directly from environmental damage” – pointing the way for establishment of a national EPA. Read more in Croakey.

Energy Security Board - Draft Detailed Design of the National Energy Guarantee Consultation Paper submission

DEA’s submission to the detailed design consultation paper emphasises that, once again, the Energy Security Board (ESB) has completely failed to consider any of the health problems and health costs associated with pollution, climate change and rising electricity prices.  The ESB and the federal government totally ignore the other 2/3 of emissions production from transport, industry and manufacturing and agriculture.  They have no policies in these areas.  This means that Australia will fail to meet its Paris Agreement Targets.  Australia will fail its global commitment to emissions reduction.  These failures guarantee deaths and illness for the people of Australia.

Download the ESB - Draft Detailed Design of the National Energy Guarantee Consultation Paper submission

OpenForum: Why Tony Abbott is wrong about the Paris climate accord

It is concerning when a leading voice in Australian politics says that as a country, we need to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. The likes of Mr Abbott fall into the category of deniers who choose not to believe that climate change is a terrifying reality. Read this prescription for Mr Abbott  from Queensland General Practitioner and DEA State Secretary Lucy-Jane Watt.

Media release: Doctors warn the NEG will increase deaths  

The failure of the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) to reduce carbon emissions will place Australians at more risk of sickness and death from extreme weather events, warn medical doctors ahead of the Turnbull Government’s plans to approve the NEG in August. 

NEG - Draft Detailed Design for Consultation - Commonwealth Elements submission

The Federal Government’s proposed National Energy Guarantee (NEG) is being presented as a bipartisan solution to electrical energy supply. However, DEA agrees with energy experts that this proposal only entrenches the dominance of coal-fired power in the eastern states and locks-out the emergence of more renewable energy. With the NEG, ambitious emissions reduction would be overlooked in the interests of false claims that a dominance of coal-fired power is the only way to ensure energy security and reliability.

Download the National Energy Guarantee - Draft Detailed Design for Consultation - Commonwealth Elements submission

The COALition's coal infection: Is it contagious?

Graeme McLeay calls out the Coalition in a spoof on coal, with Independent Australia providing an excellent cartoon and a video of John Clarke. Graeme asks “How is it that so many of our elected representatives are so divorced from scientific reality?” Read the article here.

Future of Australian forests is vital to our own

Forests add value to our lives in so many ways.

They clean our air and water, promote rain formation and protect soils from salinity and erosion.

Of Places, Faces, and Stories: What can the Environment and Health movement learn from Global Health?

“Humanism, I strongly believe, must excavate the silences, the world of memory, of itinerant, barely surviving groups, the places of exclusion and invisibility, the kind of testimony that doesn't make it onto the reports but which more and more is about whether an overexploited environment, sustainable small economies and small nations, and marginalised peoples outside as well as inside the maw of the metropolitan centre can survive the grinding down and flattening out and displacement that are such prominent features of globalisation." Edward W Said

Submission to the Clean Air for all Victorians: Victoria’s Air Quality Statement

The Victorian Government continues to involve the community in developing strategies to improve air quality in Victoria. DEA points out that Victoria needs to take stronger measures to reduce pollutants particularly from the coal-fired power stations in the Latrobe Valley. 

Download DEA's submission to the Clean Air for all Victorians: Victoria’s Air Quality Statement 

Adani Infrastructure’s North Galilee Water Scheme (NGWS) Project submission

Despite ongoing public pressure, missed deadlines and lack of secure funding, Adani is pushing ahead with their plans to build Australia's largest coal mine in the Galilee Basin. Their latest bid is to extract yet more water - from the Suttor River via the North Galilee Water Scheme - without a full environmental assessment. This water would potentially be used for other coal mines in the area, and the Suttor River feeds into the major river system going to the Great Barrier Reef. DEA put in a submission to have this project fully scrutinised both for its health and environmental impacts.

SA’s new State Public Health Plan

Each state is responsible for developing a plan to address the health harms of climate change and  as expected  there are varying degrees of action. In SA the DEA committee has been involved in consultations and their submissions and suggestions are detailed here

Coal, Ugas and Health News for June 2018

There continues to be an ongoing battle between advocacy to protect the health and wellbeing of the population and the fossil fuel industry.

DEA and the New Logging Laws at NSW Parliament

John Van Der Kallen presented at NSW Parliament House at the launch of the Forests For All: Case for Change event organised by the National Parks Association. The meeting highlighted the NSW government changes in zoning laws which allow clear felling of old growth forest. DEA supports the Forest for all Plan as the way to protect remaining NSW forests.

The Australian did not wish to publish this letter

It is predictable that an economist (Comment, The Australian 19/6) would look purely at economics to downplay the necessity of emissions reduction. To use simplified and somewhat distorted economics without considering the science of climate change and its broader repercussions on the biosphere does us no service.

How persistent and respectful advocacy is getting this doctor heard on climate change

Getting people to listen to and understand the consequences of climate change can seem daunting. As DEA's Dr Kim Loo explains, advocacy can begin in our own home electorates. Her simple strategies of persistence and respect regardless of individual views are helping to shift opinions and encourage the societal changes that are needed to protect our planet. Read more.

DEA welcomes Victoria's tougher EPA laws 

The Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, the Hon Lily D’Ambrosio presented the Environment Protection Amendment Bill 2018 document to the Victorian Parliament on 22 June. DEA is very encouraged that the Vic Department of the Environment, Land, Water and Planning and the EPA is now linking health with the environment in its deliberations. DEA has been working on enhancing recognition of the vital link between health and the environment over the last few years at numerous meetings and briefings with both the EPA and government policy makers, and through our submission to the EPA Vic Independent Inquiry

Summary framework for consultation: SA DRAFT State Public Health Plan 2019-2024

South Australia's second state public health plan is currently under development. The DEA(SA) committee recently prepared a submission commenting on the draft summary framework for the new plan, highlighting opportunities for increased consideration of environmental health issues and the need for a 'climate and health in all policies' approach. DEA(SA) has offered to provide ongoing input during the development of the new plan, with a draft expected in August 2018.

Response to Central Queensland Coal Project (Styx) Supplementary EIS

DEA made a submission opposing this new coal mine. Our criticisms were opposed in a supplementary EIS.
We have responded to this repeating that this is a dangerous mine to travellers on the Bruce Highway, because of blast plumes from explosions. The mine workings drain into an estuary and therefore is harmful to the Reef. The groundwater of this agricultural area is also under threat. The Queensland government continues to present huge problems for the climate and the Reef.

Stock Journal: Why electric cars should be powering Aussie roads

Electric vehicles can dramatically reduce the numbers of premature deaths from air pollution in Australia, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and also provide a range of terrific benefits for drivers. However despite the many pluses, Australia will continue to be a dumping ground for high polluting vehicles, writes Dr Graeme McLeay.  

Exploring ways to improve farmers' interaction with the EPBC Act 1999 

DEA has made a submission to this review. The government notice says “Independent Reviewer, Dr Wendy Craik, is undertaking a short-term targeted review to reduce red-tape and find practical ways to help farmers meet the requirements of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). The review will help unpack the issues faced by farmers to find real solutions while maintaining the high environmental standards Australia is renowned for." The use of the words “red tape” is likely to indicate the real intent but DEA has risen above these political aims.

Acland mine expansion versus human health

Young people and medical students in Queensland are not being heard in the decisions on new coal mines. We are going to have to manage the environmental, community and health mess left by the fossil fuel industry and New Acland Coal (NAC). The latest event is that Queensland’s environment department is investigating claims that the mining company New Hope may have circumvented due process by expanding stage 2 operations (some of which overlap with proposed stage 3 operations) at its New Acland coalmine without waiting for approval. This is disturbing given the Courts have not made their final judgment on stage 3 of this protracted case. Read the full analysis in the article by Kaiya Ferguson the National Student Representative of Doctors for the Environment Australia. She is a final year medical student in Brisbane, at the University of Queensland. 

Why Australia’s youth vote is the key to climate action - Openforum

The Coalition’s failure to mention climate change even once in the budget is a reckless betrayal of the community’s right to good health— especially for young Australians. Young people are recognising that they are the most affected by the government’s decisions and becoming more politically active. Youth groups such as The Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC), Australia’s first Indigenous youth climate network SEED and Fossil Free Unis are engaging in political activism such as protesting, petitioning and in direct communication with politicians. Medical student members of Doctors for the Environment Australia promote divesting from fossil fuels for doctors, their universities and for themselves as well as briefing politicians.
Read the full article in Open Forum from Edward Stoios, student member of DEA Queensland Committee.

Climate policy is a fiendish problem for governments – time for an independent authority with real powers

The Conversation is a prestigious publication and DEA publishes in it from time  to time. The Conversation is  having its annual donations drive and to mark this, 8 articles known by the editors to have had an impact over the past 12 months are republished.
One of the eight is by Peter Doherty, member of DEA Scientific Advisory Committee on the New Generation of Environmental Laws. Read here

Queensland’s land clearing laws: a victory for health

Queensland contributed 19 million tonnes of greenhouse gas in 2015 from land clearing, which was 80 percent of all the greenhouse gas from land use change in Australia for that year. After much anticipation, Queensland’s land clearing laws were finally passed last month. The laws are a significant step forward. The Annastacia Palaszczuk Government’s land clearing bill will start rectifying much of the terrible damage done to Queensland’s bushland, ecosystems and wildlife under the previous Liberal National Party government.  As explained by Lucy-Jane Watt, DEA secretary of the DEA QLD committee, this is a health issue. Read full article in Croakey.

DEA commends the AMA for supporting the Uluru statement

Doctors across the nation will commend the AMA President Dr Tony Bartone for his support of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. DEA believes that the need for Constitutional reform as expressed in this Statement will help to remove from our nation the stain of dispossession and neglect and will be an important step in improving the health and well being of Aboriginal people. READ ON

The Doctor as Leader in Sustainable Healthcare, Dr David Pencheon

This is an armchair medical recording of Dr David Pencheon OBE speaking at the Western Sydney Forum during his recent tour of Australia. Dr Pencheon is the founding Director of the Sustainable Development Unit (SDU) for NHS England and Public Health England (www.sduhealth.org.uk). The SDU was established in 2007 with the task of ensuring the NHS operated in an environmentally sustainable way – starting with reducing its carbon emissions. Between 2007 and 2015 the NHS reduced its carbon emissions by 11% – exceeding the 10% target set in 2009, despite health and care activity increasing by 18%. This represents a saving of £1.85bn, and more broadly, the first steps in a transition towards a sustainable and resilient health and care system.

Independent Australia: Electric vehicles threaten oil but are a boon for health

THE 2018 Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA)  conference to discuss better ways to dig fossil fuels out of the Earth wrapped up in Adelaide recently and it’s a sure bet they did not discuss your health. A report by consulting firm Deloitte presented at APPEA reveals oil and gas executives see electric vehicles as a threat to their industry. They are right to be worried about their bottom line, writes Dr Graeme McLeay.

Video: The story of Green Hospitals

DEA is proud to bring you the Story of Green Hospitals, a must-view short video on sustainable healthcare by our talented medical student members!  While hospitals are designed to improve health, they also contribute to the burden of disease because of their significant environmental footprint. There are a range of practical solutions that hospitals can adopt to improve health outcomes for people and planet, as well as reduce costs to the healthcare budget. View now!

The Conversation: Five ways hospitals can reduce their environmental footprint

Our healthcare sector produces 7% of Australia's emissions. Hospitals are only responsible for half of that, but there are many ways to reduce their environmental footprint and improve sustainability. DEA's Dr Forbes McGain, an expert in sustainability, outlines five of them.

Gloucester Advocate: Public meeting ahead of mine appeal

The Department of Planning and Environment and the Planning Assessment Commission in NSW knocked back an application for the Rocky Hill coal mine because the development is not in the public interest. The mine applicants  will challenge this decision at the Land and Environment Court in August.  NSW doctors, including DEA members, have written a Letter to the Editor of the Gloucester Advocate about their concerns, and have also urged readers to attend a public meeting on Wednesday 23 May at 6.30pm at Gloucester Soldiers Club.  Want to know more about DEA's position?  

Croakey: And here is the Budget reply speech that Bill Shorten should have given

In his Budget reply speech last week, Opposition leader Bill Shorten mentioned tax 39 times and climate change twice, while hospitals were mentioned 12 times.  Shorten missed an important opportunity to advocate for urgent climate action, according to Professor David Shearman who is the Hon Secretary of Doctors for the Environment Australia and Emeritus Professor of Medicine at the University of Adelaide.  Shearman says the 2018 federal budget should have been a piece of cake for climate and health, leadership and democracy. Instead, the carve-up of the budgetary chocolate cake was driven by self-interest, rather than care for future generations. 

No extra public air monitoring but Vales Point license tightened

The communities around the Vales Point coal-fired power station in NSW suffer an increased incidence of asthma. The power station may now face stricter and more consistent pollution licensing as a result of recommendations from the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA). DEA and Environmental Justice Australia have had a significant role in bring this about as you can read in this article.

What in health’s name is an ERT?

Emissions reduction targets are not an idle, notional concept but give reassurance and certainty to those involved in changing the energy mix.
DEA suggests that the Victorian government should be setting strong targets up to 2030 in pursuit of its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, in order to safeguard the health of future generations.” Read full article in Renew Economy.

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