With Budget 2020 now upon us, our federal government has an opportunity to implement policies that address the COVID-19 economy recovery and climate change, which also has potentially catastrophic health and economic impacts for current and future generations. So what are DEA's budget asks?
- Any stimulus package must take climate change into account. Efficiency measures across all sectors must have the twin purpose of creating jobs and bringing down emissions.
- Further federal support for the gas industry must consider the climate impacts, Australia’s obligations under the Paris Agreement, and the possibility of stranded assets in fossil fuels.
- The Australian Energy Market Operator's (AEMO) Integrated System Plan “step change scenario” must be prioritised over gas in the recovery because of its inherent long term advantages in cheap, reliable energy, and to lower emissions.
- A social housing stimulus package has been flagged. DEA supports this but it must be accompanied by mandated efficiency measures and rebates for solar power, heat pumps for air conditioning and hot water, and adequate green spaces in housing developments. Beyond Zero’s Million Jobs Plan describes how this can work. Retrofitting older dwellings for energy efficiency should also be supported, as in the UK.
New commercial buildings should be required to meet minimum efficiency standards and older buildings offered incentives to improve efficiency.
- Transport policy must be directed towards social needs and reducing Australia’s high transport emissions of greenhouse gas and noxious gases. Investment in electrified public transport, and cycle paths and pedestrian access for active transport will improve public health, provide employment, and reduce emissions. Australia’s poor vehicle emissions standards must be revised to align with the world’s best.
On site power for regional centres
- Distributed energy for regional centres will provide jobs, reduce demand on the grid, and lower emissions in the electricity sector. Independent MP Helen Haines has proposed such a plan, which will bring employment to the regions and lower emissions.
- The agricultural sector must have further assistance to lower emissions, prevent soil erosion, and conserve water resources while reducing pesticide and nitrogen fertiliser, use- research into regenerative farming practices could be supported through more CSIRO funding. While some assistance is available now through the Emissions Reduction Fund it could be greatly expanded.
There are health dividends in promoting all of these policies: cleaner air, soil and water; jobs and social cohesion with less mental ill-health; a safer climate; improved adaptation and resilience to heat stress and other effects of climate change.
A health-centred economic approach is vital to public health and wellbeing and one which health professionals are calling for.
Only weeks ago, Australia's doctors, representing around 90,000 individual doctors and all of the nation’s GPs, emergency room doctors, physicians, obstetricians, psychiatrists, and intensive care specialists, urged PM Scott Morrison (ScoMo) to put health at the centre of a post-COVID-19 economy recovery.
Read the letter here.
Federal Budget Date: Tuesday October 6, 2020 at 7:30pm (AEDT)
Watch: LIVE on ABC News Channel
Budget documents will be available HERE