DEA congratulates Medibank Private Health Insurance on their announcement today that they will commence divestment from fossil fuels, in acknowledgement of the health impacts of climate change. This follows their announcement earlier this year that they will reach carbon neutrality in their own operations by 2018.
DEA have long been advocating for health organisations to review their investments considering overwhelming evidence of harm to human health from fossil fuels.
Dr Helen Redmond, DEA’s divestment co-ordinator, explains: “Fossil fuels harm health directly via air, water and land pollution, and human populations have carried a large burden of ill health due to these industries for a long time. Most of the outdoor air pollution which causes 3 million deaths per year is due to fossil fuel burning for example. What we also now know is that the greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels are the major cause of global warming, and that climate change is responsible for rapidly escalating health impacts in human populations the world over. Heat, extreme weather events, droughts, floods, fires, crop failures, changing patterns of tropical diseases and increasing conflict all contribute.”
Premier medical journal The Lancet recently published their 2017 Countdown on Health and Climate Change. Not only does it reveal that hundreds of millions of people are already suffering health impacts from climate change, but also that the solutions to climate change will improve public health dramatically, resulting in cleaner air, sustainable land use and healthier diets and lifestyles.
Climate change is a public health emergency, and those of us working in health must take the lead to find solutions, including health insurance companies. By moving investments out of fossil fuels and into clean energy and other sustainable industries, Medibank is assisting the transition to the low carbon economy our health so desperately needs.
DEA is delighted by the commitment Medibank Private has shown today, to the health of current and future generations, and we hope it will continue to show the strongest leadership possible, lighting the way for other health organisations.
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