Doctors for the Environment Australia has today applauded the AMA’s declaration that climate change is a health emergency, describing it as a major milestone that firmly acknowledges the toll that rising global temperatures is having on health as well as the urgency in addressing the climate crisis. In its statement, the AMA says it has joined other health organisations around the world – including the American Medical Association, the British Medical Association, and Doctors for the Environment Australia-in making the declaration.
DEA’s national Co-Chair, Professor Kingsley Faulkner, says climate change has already led to injury, sickness and deaths, and if left unchecked poses the greatest existential risk that humanity has ever faced.
“The AMA is Australia’s most influential organisation representing doctors and medical students and the health care needs of the community.
“Its decision to ring the alarm bell on climate change as a health emergency is a significant move that behoves our policy makers to turn off their blinkers and start taking an urgent re-evaluation of priorities and planning for climate adaptation and mitigation.
“It’s critical that doctors speak out as we are on the front line of care: Our surgeries, emergency departments and clinics are the first port of call for patients suffering the impacts of climate change.
“Additionally, global warming will cost the health sector (and the economy generally) many billions of dollars through sickness and work absenteeism.
“Human induced global heating has fuelled unprecedented extreme weather emergencies, including heatwaves, bushfires, floods, air pollution and the spread of diseases carried by insects, both in Australia and elsewhere.
“Children in particular are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, both because their bodies are less able to cope with extreme weather and because they have more life years ahead of them.
“The AMA’s climate health emergency declaration is therefore a huge step forward in the battle against frightening consequences of runaway climate change.
“The call is a rallying cry to act in the face of danger, offering reassurance and hope that if we act decisively, we can remove the threat to our health and wellbeing.
“Doctors are trusted voices in the community, and we have historically spoken out on public health threats- tobacco control, asbestos, HIV-AIDS. Now we have a professional and moral duty to speak out on the climate crisis and it’s encouraging to see the AMA leading this urgent call to action.”
The AMA is calling on the Australian Government to:
• Adopt mitigation targets within an Australian carbon budget.
• Promote the health benefits of addressing climate change.
• Develop a National Strategy for Health and Climate Change. • Promote an active transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
• Establish a National Sustainable Development Unit to reduce carbon emissions in the healthcare sector.
The AMA now joins over 70 major health and medical organisations which have declared a climate emergency. This includes DEA, the American Medical Association, American Heart Association and the American Academy of Paediatricians, the British Medical Association, as well as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Lancet Commission.
Last week, the influential New England Journal of Medicine devoted a special issue on climate change impacts and health.
DEA National Co-chair Prof Kingsley Faulkner
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AMA's Climate Change is a Health Emergency media statement
DEA’s Climate Emergency media statement
DEA campaign to protect children from a warming world
DEA’s Climate Change and Health in Australia fact sheet
DEA is an independent organisation of medical doctors protecting health through care of the environment http://dea.org.au
We are supported by a Scientific Advisory Committee of distinguished health experts: Prof Stephen Boyden AM, Prof Emeritus Chris Burrell AO, Prof Colin Butler, Prof Peter Doherty AC, Prof Michael Kidd AM, Prof David de Kretser AC, Prof Stephen Leeder AO, Prof Ian Lowe AO, Prof Robyn McDermott, Prof Lidia Morawska, Prof Peter Newman AO, Prof Emeritus Sir Gustav Nossal AC, Prof Hugh Possingham, Prof Lawrie Powell AC, Prof Fiona Stanley AC, Dr Rosemary Stanton OAM, Dr Norman Swan