Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) declared climate change a health emergency on 3 May 2019.
DEA is a medical organisation comprising doctors and medical students in all states and territories and supported by a strong scientific committee of distinguished health experts and academics.
In making the health emergency declaration, DEA recognises that:
DEA now joins over 70 major health and medical organisations in the USA which have recently declared a climate health emergency, including the American Medical Association, American Heart Association and the American Academy of Paediatricians. This is in addition to the health emergency declaration already made by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Lancet Commission.
As the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has proclaimed: “If we do not change course by 2020, we risk missing the point where we can avoid runaway climate change, with disastrous (health) consequences for people and all the natural systems that sustain us”.
DEA calls for a rapid and whole-of-government response to the climate crisis
In line with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report and current peer reviewed data by scientific experts in the climate science fields, DEA calls on governments at all levels to undertake an urgent re-evaluation of priorities, ending destructive, self-harming practices and pursuing actions that promote health and wellbeing for all members of our society, now and into the future.
Doctors have a duty to protect human health and to prevent and alleviate suffering. We cannot be silent and watch governments continue to dismiss the significant and alarming health threat posed by climate change and unhealthy environments. We are familiar with dealing with emergencies and know that disaster can be averted when emergencies are recognised early, and when the response is adequate and prompt.
Action on climate change now is needed to avert the biggest health threat of our time and improve
and help protect the health and wellbeing of Australians and millions of people around the world.