The West Australian (Letters): Offsets on gas vital for climate

If Western Australia were to be opened up to unconventional gas mining, emissions from this source alone would have the potential to exceed by three times Australia's total emissions budget for energy, writes DEA's WA Chair Dr Richard Yin. With the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report highlighting that we are in a climate emergency, it's time the Mark McGowan Government shows leadership on this critical issue. 

DEA urges Wentworth candidates to prioritise  #HealthyPlanetHealthyPeople

Doctors for the Environment Australia calls on all candidates in the Wentworth by-election on Saturday to support increased action on climate change. The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report endorsed by the Australian Medical Association, highlights that we are in the midst of a climate emergency and urgent action is required to decarbonize, including the rapid phasing out of coal-fired electricity and an end to our dependence on fossil fuels.

Newcastle Herald: What pollution monitoring in Newcastle suburbs shows

Local residents in Newcastle have for years been complaining about air quality from diesel vehicles and locomotives, domestic wood heating, and coal fired power stations even though these are 30 to 95 kilometres away.  Dr Ben Ewald writes that the expansion of air pollution monitoring in Newcastle, with three new sites established at Mayfield, Carrington and Stockton four years ago, reveals disturbing results. 

MJAInsight: Health, environment impacts of fracking not adequately considered

Natural gas (primarily methane) has a reputation for being clean and “good” for the climate because burning gas for cooking, heating and power emits fewer pollutants compared with burning coal-- but it is the process of obtaining the gas that creates major health and environmental concerns, writes Professor Melissa Haswell.

Canberra Times: Probability and severity of global warming must be explored

As concerned citizens in Europe and the US take governments to the courts for their failure to act on climate change,  Dr Graeme McLeay asks whether the Australian government should now stand accused of the same negligence.

Draft State Public Health Plan (SA) 2019-2024

DEA in South Australia has contributed to the South Australian Public Health Plan 2019-2024, building on our previous Submissions on the 2013 Plan and during Consultation on the new Plan.  DEA affirms much of what is included in the draft State Public Health Plan but have advocated for climate change being an urgent and cross-cutting issue rather than one among a number of other priorities. We have also indicated that the links between human health and the environment must be strengthened, and that the development of a sustainable and climate-resilient health system provides a key opportunity for progress.  DEA has indicated that resources for implementation governance are essential and that we are willing to continue to work with SA Health on this important State Public Health Plan.

Submission to the Queensland Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy - Improving resource approval efficiency consultation


 All resource development carries potential harms to human health, which is a human right.  Yet, “Improving resource approval efficiency consultation” does not include mention of the word “health”.  In this submission, DEA makes  number of recommendations to improve all aspects of community health for Queenslanders.

ABC Opinion: Climate change leading to 'solastalgia', the feeling you get when your home is wrecked

Climate change can lead to 'solastalgia', writes Dr Richard Yin ahead of Mental Health Week starting Monday 7 October.  While nostalgia relates to pain from leaving one's home, solastagia is the homesickness you have when your home or sense of place is damaged.

Katherine Times: Medical specialists examine the risks of fracking in the NT

DEA member and public health  researcher, Professor Melissa Haswell, will discuss the evidence linking shale gas mining or fracking to environmental damage, worsening climate change and potential impacts on human health at the  Royal Australasian College of Physicians annual scientific meeting in the NT in October. Also Professor Haswell will urge the NT Government to develop alternatives to fracking that won’t  compromise the health of NT communities.

Media release:  Medical specialists examine the risks of fracking in the NT

The public health risks of unconventional gas mining of natural gas from underground shale deposits (often referred to as ‘fracking’), will be examined by Professor Melissa Haswell, a public health researcher and member of Doctors for the Environment Australia, at the Royal Australian College of Physicians (RACP) Annual Scientific Meeting in the Northern Territory in October.  

Queensland Country Life: Our Future - Heat is on as climate change stokes the fire

Bushfires can have significant physical and psychological impacts on those who experience them, and pollutants from bushfires affect air quality, not only locally, but up to thousands of kilometres away from their source, writes DEA's Queensland Chair Dr Beau Frigault. 

ABC Opinion: Human survival cannot be left to politicians. We're losing our life support systems

Why are we stripping the very foundations that sustain us? Biodiversity loss and climate change are together set to transform us to an alien world and our survival can't be left to politicians, writes DEA's Honorary Secretary Dr David Shearman.  

Independent Australia: The Morrison Government- an extraordinary health hazard

Climate change denial is the denial of many public health casualties. For example, the increasing number of injuries and deaths from extreme weather events and the psychological and economic trauma consequent to severe climatic change. New Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who when Treasurer carried coal into Parliament, has appointed avid anti-wind farm campaigner, Angus Taylor, as Energy Minister and ex-coal-company lawyer, Melissa Price, as Environment Minister. There has been no mention of climate change in either portfolio. Read more -->

RN Late Night Live with Phillip Adams: Killing me softly with diesel

In Australia, air pollution kills more people than the annual road toll, yet, we are buying more and more diesel cars. In many European cities, diesel is banned, so why is Australia with its highly urbanised population so slow to act, especially given the potentially dire health implications?  Dr Graeme McLeay is a guest on Phillip Adams' show, Late Night Live. Read more-->

Photo of a Regent Honeyeater, Hunter Valley, by Doug Beckers

Submission to the Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications - Australia’s faunal extinction crisis

Doctors for the Environment Australia is pleased to comment on this Enquiry for the extinction crisis reflects the rapid decline in biodiversity and ecological services, nationally and internationally, with grave implications for many aspects of human health and survival.

There are currently nearly 500 threatened faunal species and our current environment laws, especially the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC), are woefully inadequate.

A lack of biodiversity in faunal species impacts human health by threatening our food and water sources, current and potential medicines and crucial cultural and psychological wellsprings.

Download DEA's submission to the Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications - Australia’s faunal extinction crisis.

NSW Hunter Valley coal mine pollution: doctors call on Ministers to visit and clear the air

Thirty NSW Hunter Valley doctors, including members of DEA,  are among 100 people who  have signed a joint letter to the NSW Ministers for Health and the Environment, asking them to visit the region and experience for themselves the poor air quality caused by the coal mining industry which is putting the community at risk.  Read more—>

Coal News for September 2018

In the Hunter region of NSW the community continues to be exposed to pollution from coal fired power stations and coal mines. In the Upper Hunter there have been numerous air quality alerts which the government continues to ignore. Local GPs continue to be busy dealing with the health impacts such as exacerbations in asthma and sinusitis. Locals have their houses shaken by nearby mine blasts with the risk of exposure to blast fume. They have to make sure they hang their washing out on calm days or their clean clothes become covered by dust. But of course, none of this seems to matter when coal mining and “cheap” electricity is at stake!

Newcastle Herald: Climate change will make droughts more frequent, making David Littleproud's comments even more extraordinary

Agriculture is on the frontline of a climate emergency. Farmers’ livelihoods depend on their capacity to survive changes such as drought; and everyone’s survival depends on their ability to continue growing our food. So why does Australia not have a plan to cope with climate change events? asks DEA's NSW Chair Dr John Van Der Kallen. Read more-->

Briefing Paper: Climate Change and Health

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ABC Opinion: Climate change is World War III, and we are leaderless

Along with the rest of the Western world, Australia now more than ever is bereft of leadership on crucial action to curb global warming, writes DEA’s Honorary Secretary Dr David Shearman. However in order to save lives, the need for change must be accepted by the corporate empires that pollute and exploit the natural environment, and by our political class starting with our new PM Scott Morrison. Read more—>

Newcastle Herald: New study finds that fine particle pollution from mining and power stations is shaving months from average life expectancy

Poor air quality is shortening the average life expectancy, a new international study published this week in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters has found. It calculated an Australian with a life expectancy of 82.4 years in 2016 would lose 0.178 years from their life as a result of air pollution. Doctors for the Environment Australia has a long history of advocating for national reporting standards to protect health. Read more-->

Briefing Paper: a New Generation of Environmental Laws

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Briefing Paper: Coal production must be curtailed urgently

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Briefing Paper: Unconventional Gas

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Briefing Paper: Air Pollution

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Briefing Paper: Environmentally Sustainable Healthcare

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Briefing Paper: Agriculture and climate change

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Narrabri Coal Seam Gas and Public Health Conference

On 15-16th August 2018 DEA members from NSW (Dr John Van Der Kallen and Dr Helen Redmond) and Qld (Dr Geralyn McCarron and Professor Melissa Haswell) travelled to the north-west inland town of Narrabri to attend and speak at a Coal Seam Gas and Public Health Conference organised and chaired by North West Protection Advocacy. Narrabri Shire is the site of the Narrabri Gas Project of Santos, an 850 well coal seam gas field in the final stages of approval. Helen, Geralyn and Melissa all spoke at the conference, together with Shay Dougall and Dr Methuen Morgan. The audience included local townsfolk, farmers from surrounding regions and members of the Kamilaroi people. 

Photo by Michael Amadeus

Submission to the Review of the National Pollution Inventory (NPI)

In Australia, it is estimated that urban air pollution contributes to approximately 3,000 deaths annually – more than double the deaths of the national road toll. As part of its advocacy for cleaner air,  DEA has made a number of recommendations in a submission to a review of the National Pollution Inventory (NPI). Read more -->

MJAInsight: Why doctors should care about the National Energy Guarantee

The federal government has been bullishly promoting its proposed signature energy policy, the National Energy Guarantee (NEG), which aims to ensure reliable and affordable ongoing electricity supply, despite rogue elements within the party, led by former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who are set on derailing it. But there are important reasons why  Australia doctors should reject the NEG, write Drs Chris Juttner and John Iser. Read more -->

Newcastle Herald: Doctors say fireworks emissions should be included in national pollution review

Doctors for the Environment Australia has told a Federal 20-year review of the National Pollutant Inventory (NPI), which is considering submissions for a report to Australia’s environment ministers, that fireworks should be included for the first time. Read more -->

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. Read more -->

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. 

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.

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. 

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.

Senate Select Committee on Electric Vehicles submission

"Electricity is the thing. There are no whirring and grinding gears with their numerous levers to confuse. There is not that almost terrifying uncertain throb and whirr of the powerful combustion engine. There is no water-circulating system to get out of order-no dangerous and evil smelling gasoline and no noise.”  Edison to Ford c1895 

Download the Senate Select Committee on Electric Vehicles submission

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.

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

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.

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

Read more:

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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 Adani's North Galilee Water Scheme Project to have this project fully scrutinised both for its health and environmental impacts.

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 

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.

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.

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.

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.

Response to Central Queensland Coal Project (Styx) Supplementary EIS

DEA made a submission in 2017 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.

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.
Download DEA's submission to the summary framework for consultation: SA DRAFT State Public Health Plan 2019-2024.

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.

Download DEA's Submission on Exploring ways to improve farmers' interaction with the EPBC Act 1999

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.

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.

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

Coal News from NSW

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.

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.

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!

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.

An Australian Healthcare Sustainability Unit (HSU)  - DEA Proposal

A Healthcare Sustainability Unit (HSU) would assist the Australian health care system (primary, secondary and tertiary) to deliver quality health care in environmentally and financially sustainable ways. A HSU could lead research, policy development, system changes and education of staff, fulfilling a central national co-ordinating role for maximum effectiveness and successful implementation of initiatives at state, regional, health network, hospital and practice levels.

Download the DEA HSU Proposal 05-18

The Mercury: All not well in the greenhouse

The Tasmanian Government may well be celebrating an apparent benchmark of becoming Australia’s first carbon neutral state 30 years ahead of its plans. But as Dr Rohan Church writes in this opinion piece, the reality is  that the Will Hodgman Government is riding on the back of a collapse in the logging industry, and has taken few, if any, active steps towards this goal. 

Labor’s 2018 budget reply speech: A Fair go for Australia?

Among the long list of initiatives aimed at giving Australians a “fair go”, Opposition leader Bill Shorten’s much-awaited budget reply speech did not offer anything new on climate change, emissions or renewables. This is despite the urgent need to address global warming,  a public health emergency whose impacts we are seeing daily through avoidable sickness and deaths from extreme weather events. Nonetheless while Labor could have dared to be bolder, raised the bar that much further on climate policies, these are a step in the right direction. 

Improving a hospital’s environmental impact: what can a doctor do?

To initiate change within large highly structured organisations such as hospitals is not easy. Doctors for the Environment Australia’s (DEA) practical guide therefore aims to identify areas where change can most easily be initiated to improve a hospital’s environmental impact. Though some suggestions may be seemingly trivial, experience indicates that all of the suggestions in this guide can have a positive impact on environmental outcomes and that doctors can help instigate change. 58% of the NHS’s 2015 CO2 emissions were from the procurement of goods and services (15% medical drugs) whilst powering of buildings contributed to 20% of emissions and staff and patient travel 12%.

Download the DEA Sustainable Hospitals Guide - practical assistance

The 2018 federal budget misses the math on climate and health

It is the opinion of DEA that the federal budget was a short-sighted political maneuver at the expense of a looming climate crisis that will weigh heavily on our children’s future. The scant attention to climate change mitigation and adaptation will dent the government’s capacity to deliver these goals. The budget failed health by almost halving climate spending to $1.6 billion, dropping to $1.2 billion by 2020, and by phasing out of the Renewable Energy Target by 2020. This shows there is no commitment in this budget to do anything about curbing emissions beyond this time.

Interim Emissions Reduction Targets for Victoria

DEA is concerned by the outlook for human and planetary health of inadequate control of global warming and climate change. In a submission to the Victorian government on emissions reduction targets, DEA supports the leadership and actions undertaken by Victoria in the absence of genuine action by the Federal Government to meet Australia’s commitments to the Paris Agreement 2015.
Download DEA's submission to the Independent Expert Panel on the Interim Emissions Reduction Targets for Victoria (2021 – 2030).

Pollution from coal-fired power plants should be reviewed: NSW EPA

“The state's five coal-fired power stations are allowed "unnecessary variation" in their pollution and operate "well below" licensed limits, providing scope for more consistent and tighter controls, the Environment Protection Agency has found”.
In other words they pollute and are contributing to ill health and causing deaths! DEA and EJA, named in the article, have been working on this reform for some time and the statement by the EPA is an important step forward; the next step is to have the licensing fee for pollution raised as detailed in DEA submissions to Federal and NSW Parliaments. Read it in the SMH and Brisbane Times.

Why greening healthcare is essential for health

While general practice has a relatively small environmental footprint, its role is important in the broader context of sustainability... Sustainability in health is more than just about “greening” the health sector, although environmental sustainability is an important consideration. A sustainable health and care system needs to be able to go on forever within the limits of financial, social and environmental resources. It needs to deliver high-quality care and improved public health without exhausting natural resources or causing severe ecological damage. Read full article in the Medical Republic or on the DEA website.

French President Emmanuel Macron

Climate change: Australia's position is unconscionable for a wealthy country

"There is no planet B" says President Macron in an electrifying speech to Congress, yet for most of us climate change is of much less concern than the cost of living, taxes, schools and health services. As a slow creeping threat, "unlikely to affect me much anyway", climate change is easy to dismiss and therefore is never high on the election stakes where it is easy for our leaders to say they are doing everything they should — which they are not. Read full article on ABC NEWS online

Tasmanian Times: Doctors alarmed by renewed Tarkine destruction

DEA doctors in Tasmania have been alarmed to see escalated threats to biodiversity with renewed and seemingly accelerated destruction of native forests in the takayna / Tarkine region. DEA has called for a halt in logging. Read more.

Croakey. The National Energy Guarantee and DEA

On April 14, Doctors for the Environment Australia's national conference issued a joint statement to state and territory Energy Ministers from 150 concerned GPs, emergency doctors, public health physicians, paediatricians, physicians, surgeons, medical students and other health specialists. It said: “As doctors, we call on the energy ministers to enact energy policy that protects public health as a matter of priority”. Read on.

The Courier-Mail; Protection of marine ecosystems risks being watered down

At a time when marine ecosystems are under threat from climate change increase in sea water temperature and local pollution, widespread cutbacks to marine sanctuaries are proposed by the Coalition government. Read the article by Katherine Barraclough. This is a further indication of the governments ignorance on the fundamental importance of ecosystems to human existence detailed in a recent DEA submission.

The Guardian; Don't believe the hype on natural gas. It's a fossil fuel just like coal

The scale of the developments in WA is enormous: a recent report states that the total global emissions from all of WA’s gas reserves (conventional and unconventional) is equivalent to 36.4bn tonnes of C02, that is eight times more than the planned Adani coal mine would produce in its lifetime.

Dr Bob Brown - Keynote Address

Watch Dr Bob Brown deliver the keynote address at our recent conference - iDEA18 in Newcastle.

Shouldn't 'planetary health' be our bread and butter as primary care physicians?

The Anthropocene is of great significance to modern medicine. Air pollution, climate change, extreme weather events and food insecurity are now some of human health’s most pressing issues. Most days in my general practice I see a patient whose presentation has some connection to our rapidly changing ecosystem. Read full article in Medical Observer or on the DEA site (read on).

Health, sustainable diet and agriculture - DEA Position Statement

Unhealthy environments, climate change, and poor diet are major contributors to both chronic and acute illnesses. Changes to the way we produce our food, and the type of food we eat, are urgently required for both human and planetary health.
Health, sustainable diet and agriculture Position Statement

Action on Hunter coal mines after years of community dust complaints

In the Hunter region, community action including that of DEA has at last brought action by the state government with night time inspections to curb current dust production during night time mine work when air quality becomes even worse than daytime. Read full article.

The ACCC and Liddell; just opinion and no facts

Mr Vesey of AGL has refused the request from the Federal Government to extend the life of the Liddell power station beyond 5 years. When he said ‘‘Somebody has to be on the bleeding edge, we [AGL] are going to be the biggest emitter (of carbon dioxide] - that means we are going to need to be responsible, and take action”, he was recognising the social licence increasingly necessary for industry and was filling a role abdicated by the federal government. Now read on.

Only one industry is exempt from a NSW scheme to make industry pay for pollution

The answer is COAL! In this Editorial in the Newcastle Herald, DEA is quoted extensively on the pollution from coal fired power stations in NSW and the harm to health that results. The Herald asks why the pollution licencing system suggested by DEA and supported by the NSW EPA has not been implemented.

Greens icon (Bob Brown) says Liddell power station closure a 'watershed moment' for owner AGL

Bob Brown will speak at the iDEA conference on Saturday 14th  in Newcastle and in the Newcastle Herald today he writes about closure of the Liddell power station and the contributions by DEA to the control of pollution from coal fired power stations.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are important

The United Nations sets these goals not just for developing countries but for all countries including Australia. Although Australia has one of the highest life expectancies in the world, our SDG targets, particularly on health and the environment, have slipped 6 places in the last reporting year to 26th place globally. Furthermore, our overseas development aid to help others attain their goals is inadequate. DEA has made a submission to Parliament on SDGs. 

Download DEA's 
submission to the Senate on the Inquiry into the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Power station emissions hit the stratosphere despite government assurances on pollution controls

Dangerous fine particle emissions from Bayswater power station jumped by 69 per cent in 2017, according to new national data showing the Hunter’s biggest air polluters are releasing more toxic emissions than ever before. This Bayswater figure was dwarfed by a 179 per cent jump in PM2.5 fine particle emissions from Vales Point power station. Read DEA’s Ben Ewald’s comment in this article.

The planet’s health is no place for politics, and new laws for Australia might just make it so

The recent proposal from legal experts and the Environmental Alliance for new environmental laws recognises that health and the environment are indivisible. It is now the task of doctors' organisations to develop their input. This is a preventative health issue above all, and needs recognition of common cause between doctors and the environmental movement. This article in Croakey explains how reform of climate change and air pollution policy can begin.

DEA and a new generation of national environmental laws: time to make history in law reform

A delegation of DEA doctors (Ben Ewald, Arnagretta Hunter, Selina Lo) attended the "Better Laws for a Better Planet Symposium" hosted by the Australian Panel of Experts on Environmental Law (APEEL), IUCN Australia Committee, National Environmental Law Association, and Places You Love Alliance, on March 27, in Canberra at University House Hotel.

Coal and Gas Mining News- DEA action in March

The proposed mining of coal in Queensland is a matter of national and international concern, demanding condemnation from Australian leaders at least of the magnitude of that they expended on sandpaper and a cricket ball. On a week that the UK banned development of a coal mine because of greenhouse emissions, Queensland quietly revived the proposal for a vast dormant mine approval at Wilton, North Queensland.

Media release: Health experts call for "Reserve Bank" like authority to reform failing environmental laws

The federal government must establish an independent statutory authority much like the Reserve Bank to provide strong climate action based on consensus scientific and technological expertise to meet the unprecedented threats of climate change to human health and survival.

Why Australians need a national environment protection agency to safeguard their health

Australia needs an independent National Environmental Protection Agency to safeguard the environment and deliver effective climate policy, according to a new campaign launched today by a coalition of environmental, legal and medical organisations, including DEA. The initiative was launched today in Canberra and David Shearman has written this article to explain its role.

Read the full article

Your asthma puffer is probably contributing to climate change, but there's a better alternative

The gas norflurane, most often found in asthma metered dose inhalers, is 1,430 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a global warming gas. Another, apaflurane, is 3,220 times more potent. Globally, tens of millions of tons of carbon dioxide equivalent are attributable annually to these inhaler gases.

The burning question for Australia's politicians

Malcolm Turnbull has accused Senator Richard Di Natale of a lack of empathy in making the connection between climate and bushfires following the late season bushfires in Victoria and NSW in recent days, saying now is not the time to “politicise” these terrible events.

After the firestorm: the health implications of returning to a bushfire zone

Australia has a long history of bushfire disasters. The loss of almost 70 homes in Tathra, New South Wales, and 18 homes in southwest Victoria this week has again reminded us of the risks and huge personal costs of living in a fire-prone country. The risk is increasing as fires the world over are expanding in every dimension – in their timing, with extended seasons of favourable fire weather, frequency and severity.

Health warning:  WA fracking could blow away Australia’s carbon budget 

Greenhouse gas emissions from developing WA’s unconventional gas resources will be about three times as much as Australia has agreed to emit under the Paris Agreement, hampering global efforts to contain climate change.

Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracture Stimulation in Western Australia 2017 Submission

A recent statement by the McGowan Labor Government who plan to make WA into a "global LNG hub" is deeply concerning for the control of green house emissions. Furthermore it begs the question whether the recent WA enquiry into the risks from fracking might be used to promote the production of additional (unconventional) gas in the state.

Download the DEA Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracture Stimulation in Western Australia 2017 Submission and media release.

Final Bout; Supreme Court case contesting closure of Acland coal mine starts today

Today, the Supreme court case begins in Queensland with New Hope Coal; contesting the decision of the Land Court and the Queensland government to stop the Acland mine. This legal decision will be vital for future control of coal development. The history of this case is detailed by Queensland EDO below. A search for Acland on the DEA web site will illustrate our huge involvement over 6 years with many submissions, letters to ministers and appearances in Court by our expert witnesses. For the Land Court judgement, see also https://www.dea.org.au/reneweconomy-revelations-from-the-new-acland-coal-mine-case/

Australia’s Strategy for Nature 2018-2030: Australia’s biodiversity conservation strategy and action inventory submission

The Federal Government has produced a biodiversity conservation strategy paper which is deeply flawed in its assessments and fails to understand the urgency for action. In response, DEA has written a submission which demands action. The government has no recognition of climate change as a causative factor in biodiversity loss or of the health effects this will have.

Download DEA's submission on 
Australia’s Strategy for Nature 2018-2030: Australia’s biodiversity conservation strategy and action inventory.

Independent Australia: Health implications of Coalition's energy policy

The National Energy Guarantee (NEG) and Turnbull Government's current energy policy have significant adverse health implications, causing deaths and illness, in Australia and globally. Health is totally ignored in their deliberations.

Submission to the Energy Security Board National Energy Guarantee - Consultation Paper

The consultation paper is fundamentally flawed in failing to include health considerations from air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions which have considerable costs to human health and the nation.
Read more:

Fortunately there will be no more emissions from this car! Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster (Image by SpaceX via Wikimedia Commons)

Better fuel for cleaner air draft regulation impact statement

Australia’s fuel standards for vehicles are the lowest of the countries comprising the OECD and amongst the lowest in the G20. They cause ill health and deaths from air pollution and also contribute  a large and growing proportion of our greenhouse emissions. There has to be reform. 
Read DEA's recommendations to the Ministerial Forum on Vehicle Emissions on the Better fuel for cleaner air draft regulation impact statement.

DEA Policy: Action on Climate Change and Health; Governance and Strategy

To address the health impacts of climate change - the greatest global health threat of the 21st century - national leadership and reform of governance are urgently needed.

ABC 4Corners: While politicians question the reality of climate change, farmers and businesses act

On Monday evening ABC’s 4 Corners aired an episode ‘Weather Alert’ looking at how Australia’s changing climate is impacting people.  Mounting evidence suggests our changing climate is having an impact on everything - from what we grow, eat and drink, to house prices and the cost of insurance. Doctors for the Environment Australia provided the health segment for rising temperatures also have a significant, often ignored, impact on health.

Business and Climate Change; Managing The Risks

Business is rapidly recognising their enterprises are increasing its interaction with business and commerce whenever possible.

The Mercury: State climate policy has stagnated in Tasmania in the last four years

We have a chance to shape Tasmanians' future health by demanding government takes climate change seriously. Rohan Church is a Launceston doctor and Chair of the Tasmanian branch of Doctors for the Environment Australia.

Newcastle Herald: After years of complaints about air quality, Tighes Hill residents believe they’ve been heard

Doctors for the Environment Australia  has endorsed the Tighes Hill community’s  overwhelming support for the closure of Carrington coal terminal and concentrating all coal exports on Kooragang Island, which was further away from residential areas. 

Newcastle Herald: Renewed calls for industry to pay for the true health costs of coal

DEA joins environment groups to step up a campaign for a comprehensive study of Hunter air quality health impacts after local evidence has supported overseas research linking power station emissions and pre-term births.

Reform of National Environmental Laws; light amongst the darkness

This is a developing issue of great importance. Many DEA members would have seen a leak to The Guardian; we await the definitive proposals from the Environmental Alliance. Their proposal arises from a recent report from a large group of distinguished environmental lawyers. The main aim is to provide a secure basis for a National Environmental Protection Authority, rather like the USEPA but secure against Trump-like demolition. With political games on environment, climate and health policy in Australia for 20 years, a secure Authority is seen as vital. I suggest all members read the long list of recommendations from APEEL.

The Age: Health Minister promises answers on health of Latrobe Valley babies

A higher than average incidence of health issues in the Latrobe Valley has promoted the state government to look into the impacts of toxic emissions from the region's three power plants. Poor air quality caused by blasting, dust and transportation of coal is having a marked impact on residents in the area, with low birthweights being nearly two percent higher than the national average.

Response to The Australian’s article on Latrobe Valley pollution

Doctors for the Environment Australia recently wrote a submission to the Victorian EPA pointing out the link between air pollution exposure and the risk of low birth weight which has been called alarmist. We would call it alarmingly realistic. 

SA Health on the Review of the State Public Health Plan - South Australia: A Better Place to Live

In this submission DEA analyses the current SA public health plan in the light of our submission; South Australia: A Better Place to Live 2013.
We conclude it is necessary to show more urgency in climate change mitigation, to bring climate change into all policies and to work for national coordination through the development of a National Environmental Protection Agency.

The Age: Environment watchdog could slap tougher emissions caps on power plants

In welcome news, Victoria’s environmental watchdog is reviewing the licences of the state’s three remaining coal-fired power plants which supply about 80% of the state’s power. 

Newcastle Herald Editorial: Health figures show disturbing trends on Upper Hunter air quality

Figures produced by Doctors for the Environment Australia at a recent Planning Assessment Commission hearing into a coal mine expansion in the Hunter have attracted intense community and media attention, including an editorial in the Newcastle Herald which posed the question:  How much data is needed to get action?

Online Opinion: Let’s end the propaganda war on coal

South32 chief executive Graham Kerr is candid about why the mining company he leads is turning its back on thermal coal: It's becoming less appealing to investors, it has an uncertain future and it is linked to climate change.

The impact of unconventional gas on the human right to health

Dr Geralyn McCarron, a Brisbane GP, has spent more than five years living in the gas fields of Australia.

This experience has led Dr McCarron to provide testimony both nationally and internationally regarding the health impacts of the gas industry and most recently authoring and publishing a peer reviewed paper.  

Media release: Doctors call for urgent review of a spike in Upper Hunter hospital admissions

Doctors are today calling on NSW Health to undertake as a matter of urgency a proper health study looking at the reasons for the dramatic spike in hospital admissions in the Upper Hunter. 

Singleton Hospital emergency admissions jump as air quality falls in the Upper Hunter

Shocking data recently highlighted by DEA show Singleton Hospital admissions in NSW’s Upper Hunter spiked by 28.6 per cent during periods which coincided with poor air quality in the area.

The Mercury: Talking point — Heat on health to cut costs and boost wellbeing

Most Tasmanians are aware extreme weather events of recent years were made more severe by the changing
climate, and are likely to become more common and more intense over the next few decades.

Issues Paper - Tasmanian State Election 2018

A Prescription for Safeguarding the Health of Tasmanians

Media Release: Doctors applaud decision to reject New Acland Coal mine extension

Doctors for the Environment Australia has today welcomed the Queensland Government’s decision to reject the environmental approvals for the expansion of the New Acland Coal mine, describing it as the only sensible decision open to the government given the potential risks posed by the project.

Victorian brown coal-fired power stations licence reviews submission

Doctors for the Environment Australia make the following submission with eight recommendations in relation to the licence reviews of Victoria’s power stations as brown coal-fired power stations are major polluters and greenhouse gas emitters. 

Download the Victorian brown coal-fired power stations licence reviews submission

The Conversation: Health check-how can extreme heat lead to death?

Our climate is becoming hotter. This is our reality. Extreme heat is already responsible for hundreds of deaths every year. It’s a big environmental killer, and deaths from heatwaves in Australian cities are expected to double in the next 40 years.

Vicdoc: Protecting Victoria's forests is good for our health

Victoria’s forests are simply extraordinary. They support our health in a variety of ways and there is currently a community call for a new Great Forest National Park in our Central Highlands. Despite this, state government owned Vicforests continues industrial clear fell logging. In addition to the push from environmentalists and scientists there is a strong argument for the protection of our remaining forests on health grounds.

Coal is Worthless; a commentary on William Nordhaus and “The Commons”

When I received the January newsletter from an alma mater, Yale University, there was a tribute to economist William Nordhaus. He was already waxing on the issues of the day when I was doing postgraduate study and working in the Yale University Medical Centre in 1965.
Nordhaus is central to DEA interests and aims and indeed to all our lives and the future, they are the issues of coal and the Commons. Nordhaus’s work is about the economics of the Commons.

Unconventional gas, health, economics and incompetent regulation - an everyperson’s guide to what’s going on.

We know from the work of William Nordhaus that coal has no economic value to communities if all social, health and environment, and climate related impacts are taken into account. Coal remains viable only in the minds of climate deniers, some governments, and fossil fuel barons who continue to profit despite its harms.

Submission to the Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the Northern Territory in Response to the Draft Final Report

Doctors for the Environment Australia welcomes the opportunity to provide further feedback following the release of the draft Final Report into Hydraulic Fracturing.

It is our recommendation that the moratorium on fracking in NT should be extended indefinitely. Whilst the Inquiry has identified regulatory options that may minimise some of the risks of fracking, DEA believes that for NT, such a response is premature, overly optimistic, and overlooks climate change which is the greatest threat to human and economic health that we face.

Download the Submission to the Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the Northern Territory in Response to the Draft Final Report.

Croakey: Queensland authorities urged to to act on health concerns about coal seam gas emissions

A study in the International Journal of Environmental Studies by DEA’s Dr Geralyn McCarron, showing a possible link between pollutants from the CSG industry and a spike in hospitalisations in the Darling Downs raises questions about safety, but also about how the industry responds to public health concerns. 

In response to the paper, the peak national gas industry body the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA) attacked the author and made sweeping and incorrect statements about the study, rather than expressing concern about the findings.

In this Croakey blog, Dr McCarron responds to the attacks and calls on health authorities to take responsibility for further investigation of the health impacts of the CSG industry on local residents.

Doctors say national air quality standards are failing to protect health

National air quality reporting standards are failing to protect people's health argue DEA members, John Van der Kallen and Ben Ewald, after windy weather whipped up dust from local coal mines in the Hunter Valley last weekend resulting in air pollution for residents that breached regulations. Yet there are no significant consequences for the mining companies for violation of standards.

Newcastle Herald Opinion | Climate change the true culprit

It’s common knowledge that the amount of sand on beaches changes over time. In heavy seas, sand is eroded from beaches. In calmer periods, sand is deposited. However, we are entering a new world and can no longer be reassured by the past processes where sand on beaches is replenished.

A win for health and the environment in Pt Augusta

After a successful eight -year community led campaign, the SA government recently announced that the world’s largest stand-alone concentrated solar thermal (CST) power plant will begin construction in Port Augusta. This will transform a city which was powered by ageing coal fired power stations into a city with a bright future as a renewable energy hub in the 21st century. What’s more, doctors and medical students were a major driving force behind this decision, writes Dr Ingo Weber with AMA vice-president Dr Chris Moy.

Doctors alarmed, but not surprised, at data estimating the significant carbon footprint of our health care system

Doctors are alarmed, but not surprised, at data estimating the significant carbon footprint of our health care system - over 7% of Australia’s total carbon footprint.

Medical Observer: How doctors can use money as a force for good health

There are arguably three dimensions of medical ethics. The first is the health of the patient. The second dimension is the health of the community. And the third dimension concerns how our actions both in and out of the clinic affect the global community and natural world around us on which the health of current and future generations depends. 

Coal News and DEA Action in December

  • Rocky Hill coalmine rejection
  • Victory celebrations in the Gloucester Valley
  • Proposed Styx Coal Mine in Central Queensland

Online Opinion: How the Turnbull government stole Christmas

The Turnbull Government may have hoped releasing Australia’s latest greenhouse gas emissions together with the 2017 Climate Report would pass unnoticed, given the sneaky way it announced them just days before Christmas.

Croakey; Land clearing: a health threat requiring action and leadership – in the NT, and elsewhere

The diversity and complexity of the health issues that we face, whether as journalists or public health advocates or policymakers, can be overwhelming. In dealing with a constant avalanche of health-related news, it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture.

Bushfires and Health in a Changing Environment: Fact sheet

Bushfires have always been a part of the Australian ecology, but now that ecology is changing.

Park Watch: Nature’s Medicine

The Victorian Government released a strategy for protecting Victoria’s biodiversity in April 2017. This article is the third in a series in Park Watch (see the June and September 2017 editions) that addresses the strategy and why it matters.

Protecting Victoria’s Environment – Biodiversity 2037 is the first formal statewide long-term biodiversity plan in two decades, and it contains a range of priorities and initiatives. Chapter Four, ‘A healthy environment for healthy Victorians’ explores why spending time connecting with nature is good for our health as individuals and as a society.

he Victorian Government’s Victorian Memorandum for Health and Nature is also a significant step in recognising that looking after nature also means looking after the health of people and their communities.

Submission to the Proposed Central Queensland (Styx) Coal Project

The impacts of a development must be seen in the context of national and international health. These important links are explained in “The health factor: Ignored by industry and overlooked by government”, Appendix 1: The need to protect public health.

Media release: Doctors welcome Rocky Hill mine decision

Doctors for the Environment Australia has today applauded the rejection of the Rocky Hill open cut coalmine proposal near Gloucester.

Submission on the proposed amendment to prohibit open cut mining at Drayton South

DEA supports the prohibition of open cut mining in the mapped area of the Upper Hunter near Jerrys Plains. However DEA is of the view that the amendment does not go far enough, and that all coal mining on the site should be prohibited. This is because any form of coal mining on this site would have damaging effects on local population health, the environment and existing industry. Furthermore, coal mining on this site would have negative global effects, from the contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and the subsequent effects of climate change, including threats to health. Therefore DEA advocates for the Mining SEPP amendment to be widened, to include a ban on all coal mining on the site. 

Download the Submission to the open cut mining prohibition for Drayton South 12-17

On Line Opinion: We must avoid the final cut

My guess is most Australians aren’t aware that an area of forest and bushland the size of the MCG is currently bulldozed in Queensland every three minutes, mainly for livestock grazing. Data released this year reveals that over 1 million hectares have been cleared over the last three years, making Eastern Australia a global deforestation hot-spot alongside places like the Amazon, the Congo and Borneo. Inexcusably, we are the only advanced economy still engaged in broad-scale land clearing.

Submission to the State Commission Assessment Panel

Submission to the State Commission Assessment Panel (SCAP) on 
– Alinta Energy Reeves Plains Power Station, comprising the construction of a 300 MW capacity gas fired peaking power station
– AGL Energy Grand Trunkway, Torrens Island, comprising the construction of a two stage power station with a total capacity of 420 MW
In making this submission we consider both projects together as they share commonalities of concern to us.At this time, when global warming is shaping an energy transformation around the world, South Australia is recognised as a leader in renewable energy. To turn to fossil fuel power generation in order to fill a shortfall in capacity is regressive and cannot be justified on health grounds (or economic grounds, given the price of gas).

Download the DEA Submission to the State Commission Assessment Panel SCAP 11-17

OpenForum: Australia comes bottom of the class on climate action.

Last week, Germanwatch and Climate Action Network (Europe) announced the results of their annual survey of countries’ climate change action throughout the world.

Croakey: Wrapping the news on climate and health from #COP23 – plus how Australia was judged

Who is the best at being the worst? Who does the most to do the least? And who is working really hard to wreck our climate?

These were some questions on the minds of judges of the “Fossil of the Day” awards at the recent COP23 talks in Bonn.

Dr Alice McGushin, a member of Doctors for the Environment Australia, was there to collect on behalf of Australia. It was a “bittersweet moment”, she writes below in her final report from the climate talks (read her previous article for Croakey here).

Newcastle Herald Opinion | Doctors take stand against mine proposal

The proposed Rocky Hill open-cut coalmine near Gloucester should be rejected outright by the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC), which is meeting this week. There are plenty of reasons for tearing up the proposal – open-cut mines are bad for health.

Media release: Doctors slam Australia’s poor ranking in climate change performance

In what health experts describe as embarrassing and shameful, Australia has come in as one of the worst performers in an annual assessment of 57 nations’ climate policies, heading only three other countries.

Supplementary submission on the Rocky Hill Mine to the NSW PAC

Since the initial DEA submission  there has been new evidence regarding the impact of open cut coal mines on health as well the rejection of a similar proposal, the New Acland Coal mine extension, by the Land Court in Queensland. 

DEA rejects this proposal on health grounds. The mine is simply too close to the township of Gloucester, risking the health of the local population and nearby populations from pollution along the coal corridor.

Download the 
Supplementary submission to Rocky Hill PAC 11-17

Newcastle Herald: Gloucester’s controversial Rocky Hill coal mine under the microscope

The proposed Rocky Hill open cut mine will have a major impact on the health of the local community with the mine simply too close to the township of Gloucester.

DEA welcomes the divestment announcement of Medibank Private Health Insurance

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.

Croakey: COP23, Fiji leads global efforts to leap forward on climate action

“And it is that of a Fijian, a Pacific Islander, who comes from a region of the world that is bearing the brunt of climate change. Whether it is the rising seas, extreme weather events or changes to agriculture, that threaten our way of life and in some cases, our very existence.”

Vector: Coal Mining, Climate Change and the Global Impacts on Health, Examining Adani’s Proposed Carmichael Coal Mine

The proposed Adani-owned Carmichael coal mine in central Queensland is currently in the final stages of planning with the support of both the Queensland and Australian governments. It is in the interest of human health, locally and abroad, for the medical profession to advocate on behalf of the community and lobby our legislators to reject this project.

Supplementary Submission to the Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the Northern Territory

DEA has already made a comprehensive submission and provided additional information in a further submission to the Inquiry, and these are now in the Submission library (numbers 96 and 477).

Transport Position Statement

Transport is an important part of a developed nation such as Australia, providing goods and services vital to health and the economy. The way in which transport is conducted in Australia is important to the health and well-being of all Australians. 

Media release: Doctors join AAA’s call for real world testing of cars

Doctors for the Environment Australia have welcomed the Australian Automobile Association’s (AAA) call for the introduction of a real world testing of cars, as the initiative would save thousands of lives.

John Menadue – Pearls and Irritations: The Devastating Health Costs of Coal.

Amid all the debate about energy policy – about security, affordability, and carbon emissions – there is one critical issue that has barely rated a mention: human health. Coal is hazardous to our health; renewables are not. In any discussion about energy, the human health costs of coal and the significant health benefits of switching to safe and healthy forms of energy must be considered as seriously as security, affordability and emissions.

Huffington Post: Cars Are The Problem, And The Solution, To Our Highest Emissions Level Ever

Australia’s annual emissions from energy use have increased to their highest-ever level according to the recent report by respected energy expert Hugh Saddler. This finding is disturbing, and points to a failure by government to address climate change across all sectors.

Media release: Medics – We must better prepare health services for heatwaves

Doctors have today called for a comprehensive government plan to better prepare the health system, including emergency hospital departments, to cope with the extra admissions from the projected increases in heatwaves.

The Guardian: A lack of action on climate change is putting people’s lives at risk | Mark Monaghan

A new study warning Australia’s major cities are likely to reach highs of 50C by 2040 – even if the world meets its target of limiting warming to 2C above pre-industrial levels – is yet more evidence that without immediate and urgent action we are facing a looming public health crisis during heatwaves and other extreme weather events.

Open Forum: Coal – the inconvenient truth

The debate on energy has omitted one vital factor that may have provided a rational outcome – health. It requires dedication by the Federal Government to avoid mentioning health in the context of coal. This avoidance is cloaked in the mantra of “coal is clean”, “clean coal”, “coal is good for humanity”, “coal is cheap” – all flying in the face of universally known evidence.

Lithgow Mercury: Doctor says water quality should be protected

“Access to clean drinking water is a basic human right and is essential for human health.  Consequently there needs to be a high priority given to protecting the quality of our drinking water.”

The Doctus Project: Tobacco, coal, and Adani’s Carmichael mine

Imagine there was a giant new tobacco factory being planned for regional Queensland. And that both the state and federal governments were backing its development, and offering public money to support it. There would likely be considerable outcry from medical and health organisations and much public debate about supporting this unethical industry.

Media release: Doctors demand protection for Sydney’s drinking water

Any water discharged from the Springvale mine, near Lithgow, needs to be treated to the legally required standard to ensure Sydney has safe drinking water, urge health experts.

Online Opinion: Death of the CET

Coalition talk of dumping Finkel’s Clean Energy Target leaves Australia’s climate policy in tatters.

Newcastle Herald Opinion | Health omitted from review of EIS: Doctors

There are numerous examples of where communities have been put at risk from the rapid expansion of the coal and unconventional gas industry in NSW. Bulga, Singleton, Camden are some of the sites that come to mind.

Independent Australia: AGL’s Liddell power station and the Turnbull Government’s ‘clean coal’ lies

Even AGL recognises its Liddell power station is neither “clean” nor “cheap”, but the Coalition Government promotes such lies to preserve its own power over community health, writes Dr David Shearman.

Media release: Doctors urge closure of Liddell coal-fired power station before 2022 to save lives

Liddell coal-fired power station — one of the most polluting in Australia — must close earlier than 2022 rather than later as suggested by the Turnbull Government on Tuesday, urge concerned doctors.

RenewEconomy: Liddell – Climate change and air pollution medical negligence

Most members of the community will recognise the team-work, devotion and skill of doctors, nurses and technical staff in delivering new life in cardiac, brain or trauma surgery or freedom from the misery of pain conferred by hip and knee surgery

Doctors disappointed by government’s decision to cut back marine sanctuaries

In 2012, Australia made history by creating the world’s largest network of marine sanctuaries. This was the result of decades of scientific research, work by all sides of politics, and overwhelming community support. Science shows that sanctuaries protect marine life, help reefs to recover from coral bleaching, and ensure we have fish for the future.

Croakey: Public forum in Townsville hears of health concerns about Adani mine

Health professionals, farming families, environmental activists and community members attended a forum in Townsville last week where serious health concerns were raised about the Adani Carmichael mine.

Our thanks to James Cook University medical student Kira Muller for providing the following report for Croakey readers.

Townsville forum: Doctors and nurses speak out on the health effects of Adani’s coalmine

 Organised by members of Doctors for the Environment Australia, this public forum held at James Cook University in Townsville involved doctors, nurses and farmers speaking out on the impacts of the Adani Carmichael mine on health.

NSW EIA Improvement Project – 1: Overview of the EIA Improvement Project Submission

The rapid expansion of the coal and unconventional gas industries has not only created widespread community concern over health and environmental issues but it has exposed the inadequate processes whereby the New South Wales (NSW) government is acting as proponent in their perceived interest of economic development whereas they should be acting as arbiter.

Media release: Public Forum-Townsville doctors and nurses speak out on the health effects of Adani’s coalmine

What: Free public forum and discussion on how the Adani Carmichael mine will affect health

Joy and relief in Port Augusta; victory for community

In a world that must transition to renewable energy to ensure our future, the visionary Mayor of Port Augusta (PA), the late Joy Baluch said “God is not going to send us a bill for solar energy, but the gas industry will”.

Current and future impacts of climate change on housing, buildings and infrastructure submission

….It is also increasingly apparent that, even with a 2°C rise, the world will be greatly changed from present, with economic budgets greatly stressed by reparation of infrastructure and all the pillars of life, water, food, air quality and biodiversity-resilience under stress and facing likely deterioration…..

Croakey: Review of Mark Butler’s Climate Wars book: time to broker a true peace

Croakey recently featured a call to arms on climate change policy from Mark Butler, Opposition spokesman for climate change and energy, following the launch of his book Climate Wars.

In her review of the book, Dr Rosalie Schultz, from Doctors for the Environment Australia, welcomes its currency and accuracy. But she notes Butler’s determination to continue to wage the political war on climate change, and lack of acknowledgement of Labor’s failures and restraints. Thus, she says, the book loses an opportunity to “address the climate conflict through a transformative approach”.

Climate Wars is published by Melbourne University Press.

Open Forum: Further evidence that coal-fired power has reached its use-by-date

This week’s report on Australian coal-fired power stations reveals staggering levels of polluting emissions and underlines the problems created by coal combustion for the health of the planet and its inhabitants, and provides further evidence that coal as a fuel is approaching its use-by date.

Media release: Medics end date for Australia’s coal-fired power plants

Doctors are calling for the phase out Australia’s coal-fired power stations within the next 10 years to reduce the numbers of avoidable deaths and illnesses, in response to a damning report released today.

Media release: Doctors give Port Augusta’s solar thermal plant a big tick of approval

Doctors applaud the South Australian Government’s support of a solar thermal plant with storage in Port Augusta – the biggest of its kind in the world.

Governance and operation of Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility Submission

It is also very important that the NAIF also takes into account our responsibilities to various international agreements such as the Paris Agreement. This would seem consistent with the paragraph in the White Paper – “The north will be an exemplar of sustainable development. The development of major population centres of more than a million people will underwrite substantial exports of planning, design, architecture and construction to the Tropics”.

The Reef – a love story

DEA was pleased to contribute to a book by the Australian Marine Conservation Society outlining the value of the Great Barrier Reef. It is called ‘The Reef- a love story’ and was presented to the Minister for the Environment & Energy, Josh Frydenberg and also shared widely at the World Heritage Committee meeting in Poland. Josh was reportedly deeply appreciative of the book. You can download the book from this link to a drop box folder (to view it as a book you need to open the downloaded file in Adobe Acrobat and view in a 2 page format).

RenewEconomy: Revelations from the New Acland coal mine case

The Land Court recommendation against expansion of New Acland Coal (NAC) open cut mine has exposed the ongoing complaints by neighbours, about dust, noise, vibrations and lighting spills from the existing mine. Could this be the turning point for improvement or even reform of health and environmental assessments in Queensland?

Objections to major hospital ’s links with coal bring a positive result

DEA expressed alarm after learning that a major Australian hospital had publicly backed a proposed coal mine.

COAG: Can democracy weed out climate deniers?

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s statement that “Those people who say coal and other fossil fuels have no future are delusional and they fly in the face of all economic forecasts” confirms that four Australian states were right to go it alone, after his government failed to deliver a clean energy target at the COAG meeting.

Online Opinion: Air pollution-a silent killer we must urgently act on

Media reports last week that the government planned to introduce strict new fuel and vehicle efficiency standards starting in 2022, characterised as a “carbon tax on cars”, brought an emphatic denial from Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg.

The Health Toll of Coal Fact Sheet

Each step of the coal to energy generation lifecycle – mining, transportation, washing, combustion, and disposing of waste – impacts upon human health (Epstein, 2011).

Newcastle Herald: Opinion | HELE plants still cause air pollution

With mining interests calling for new high efficiency coal fired power stations to be built in the Hunter region, it is time to examine the health effects of these proposed plants.

InDaily: Why fracking the South-East threatens more than agriculture

Australia’s energy debate needs to consider mounting evidence that unconventional gas extraction poses a serious risk to human health, argues David Shearman.

Media release: Young doctors shout out to @Commonwealthbank: #NoNewCoal

Young doctors across the nation will today start a week-long social media campaign aimed at pressuring the Commonwealth Bank not to fund new coal mines, including Adani, because coal is hazardous to health.

Air Pollution Policy

Globally air pollution is an increasingly important public health problem. Nationally ambient (outdoor) air pollution contributes significantly to morbidity and mortality. Reductions in fossil fuel combustion to mitigate climate change have the potential to also benefit health by reducing concentrations of air pollutants which contribute to respiratory and cardiovascular disease and premature mortality.

Huffington Post: Why The Finkel Review Sells Australia’s Climate Future Short

News that the Finkel report on how to make the energy market secure is facing bitter opposition among the ranks of the Coalition doesn’t bode well.

VicDoc: Counting the true cost of Hazelwood’s shutdown

Hazelwood, in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, was noted for being the most carbon polluting coal-fired power station in Australia. The plant ceased operations in March – five months after majority owner, Engie, announced the decision to close when it became clear that it could not meet the estimated $400 million to maintain health and safety standards ordered by WorkSafe Victoria.

Medial release: Why the Finkel report fails Australians

A three year notice to be given by companies for closure of air polluting coal power stations means three years with more deaths and illness in the community, according to health experts responding to the Finkel report released today.

Coral Bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef: An emerging public health crisis?

By Dr Lea Merone and Dr Andrew Daltry

Human health and the environment are inextricably linked in a number of ways. Natural ecosystems support our health by filtering our air, providing fresh water and food, protecting against spread of disease and pests, forming physical defenses from weather, and regulating our climate.

Media release: Doctors and nurses join forces to urge Commonwealth Bank chiefs not to fund the Adani mine- for health’s sake

Just one day after the Adani board gave the go-ahead to the Carmichael coal mine project, nurses, doctors and concerned community members wearing stethoscopes and surgical masks and carrying placards will  deliver letters to the Commonwealth Bank’s Board of Directors at the bank’s headquarters on Sussex Street, Sydney, and to key branches in Brisbane and Perth.

Media release: Open letter to the NAIF Board

Leading medical doctors have today made an urgent call to each of the Board members of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility to rule out an investment loan allowing Adani to build a rail line from the Galilee Basin to Abbot Point, because of the dangers coal poses to public health.

Submission on the Narrabri Gas Project

DEA notes a number of deficiencies, unsupported assumptions, known and unknown risks in relation to the Santos Narrabri Gasfield project. We recommend rejection of this proposal on the basis that it cannot sufficiently guarantee the safety of human health and ecosystems supporting health.

Adani’s Carmichael Coal Mine and Health: Fact Sheet

Coal is hazardous to health. It pollutes our land, water and air, and contributes to further climate change – the biggest threat to health this century.

Shortsighted Budget 2017 ignores health impacts of climate change

The Turnbull Government has once again prioritised growing the economy over human lives, writes Dr Kris Barnden.

Doctors deliver message to Commonwealth Bank chiefs: For health’s sake, don’t fund Adani’s coal mine

Doctors in stethoscopes and surgical masks will today deliver a letter highlighting the risks to health from the proposed Adani coal mine to the Commonwealth Bank’s Board of Directors in Sydney.

Media release: Doctors call for stricter pollution license fee system to protect health

Doctors for the Environment Australia calls for proper implementation of the pollution license fee system for NSW power stations to protect public health.

Discussion Paper on the Review of Australia’s Climate Change Policy

Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) is concerned about the health effects of climate change on humans and the biosphere on which humans depend. DEA is also cognisant of policies that can address both existing health problems and reduce the impact of climate change. It is in this holistic risk–co-benefit framework that DEA examines the climate change policies of Australian federal and state governments.

Media release: Electricity review raises more questions than answers

Doctors slam yet another review of Australia’s electricity supply, saying it raises questions of probity, and also delays efforts to reduce green-house gas emissions from dirty energy production that is harming our health.

OnlineOpinion: The NT must keep the door firmly closed to fracking

There is growing concern in the NT that the Gunner Government may remove the moratorium on fracking. However, rejecting the moratorium would be a grave mistake, and Territorians know this. That’s why we voted for the moratorium in the landslide ALP victory in August 2016.

Submission to the Climate Change Authority on the Special Review of power system security, electricity prices and emissions reductions

DEA notes that the Climate Change Authority (CCA) will join with the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) to review an Independent Review into the Future Security of the NEM. The report of this Independent Review is not yet available, so why there has to be further review of an unpublished Review is problematic and raises questions of probity.

Action on the land: reducing emissions, conserving natural capital and improving farm profitability

DEA commends The Climate Change Authority for taking a lead in exploring the ways in which Australia’s agricultural sector can move from being a major contributor to climate change and degradation of natural resources to being part of the solution, whilst maintaining or improving productivity.

Media release: NT Government must stick to moratorium on fracking, urge doctors

Medical doctors have called for an extension of the moratorium on fracking in the Northern Territory, fearing that the Government’s focus on developing a regulatory framework for fracking could signal support for this highly controversial procedure.

Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the Northern Territory submission

Australia has seen rapid growth in interest and development of exploration and drilling for unconventional gas reserves from coal seams, shale deposits and tight sands. These reserves require special techniques such as fracking, in-seam and horizontal drilling. Doctors for the Environment Australia is concerned that the rush to exploit this resource has outpaced regulation to protect public health and the environment, and to adequately assess the health impacts, including exposures to industrial chemicals.

Inquiry into the rehabilitation of mining and resources projects as it relates to Commonwealth responsibilities submission

Mining incurs a range of environmental impacts that persist after the production phase of the mine has ended. There are changes in vegetation and landscape, exposure and potential ignition of fossil fuels, the pollution of air, soils and water, the introduction of aquatic sediments into water sources and land subsidence. Any of these can result in loss of productive land, loss or degradation of groundwater, pollution of surface water and air pollution from dust or toxic gases, with subsequent negative impacts on human health.

Time to end the debate and get on with it

We know that air pollution is responsible for 3000 preventable deaths a year. Dr John Van Der Kallen says as the solutions to our air pollution and climate chaos are obvious and available, it is now a matter of getting on with it.

Media release: Are Australia’s Emergency Response systems prepared for the Climate Emergency?

Immediate Past Vice President of the AMA asks Are Australia’s Emergency Response systems prepared for the Climate Emergency?

Media Release: Doctor training needs to step up on climate change, urge health experts

Universities and professional organisations must better prepare doctors and medical students to deal with the impacts of climate change, urge Australia’s leading medics.

Media release: Healthy planet, healthy people: Leading doctors call for urgent action

Doctors are calling for action on climate change, linking it to conditions such as respiratory diseases and childhood illnesses and also highlighting the need for emergency preparedness.

Gizmodo OpEd: Cars Are Killing Us

About 3,000 Australians die prematurely each year from outdoor air pollution, and our cars are a major component of that pollution, particularly in traffic congested areas.

Croakey Blog: A call for doctors to take a stand on the Adani Carmichael coal mine

This BBC report on the proposed Adani Carmichael coal mine makes the point that it would be one of the biggest mines on the planet with a reference that points graphically to its global impact – “occupying an area nearly three times larger than Paris, where world leaders hammered out a landmark agreement to combat climate change in late 2015”.

The Examiner: Small steps can lead to some pretty big changes

I had felt deeply uncomfortable about my contribution to climate change for decades. My electricity and car were powered by fossil fuels. My groceries were trucked and flown in from distant places. My bank invested in coal, oil and gas.

Preliminary Report of the Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market Submission

Energy reliability and security, and affordability which are all essential for the cohesion and health of our society can be achieved by the continued inclusion of renewable energy into the market; small- and large-scale wind and solar, supported by smart switching and controlling technologies; and by energy storage facilities such as batteries, pumped hydro and concentrated solar thermal.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

It may be merely symbolic but, for me, our surgery garden is an extension of what we do as doctors. We all know that the major determinants of health sit outside consulting rooms and hospitals so here’s the story of our very own green space.

Letter to the Editor (TheAge) The environment: Fracking ban a small step in right direction

Congratulations to the Victorian Parliament for finally passing the legislation to ban fracking in the state. Fracking is bad for our health, and an increasing number of reports from the United States show that there are adverse impacts on the health of nearby residents. Importantly, the burning of fossil fuels causes climate change. The increasing frequency of heatwaves, bushfires, floods and severe storms are costing Australians dearly in terms of health and social disruption.

Media release: Traffic hot spots are making our children sick, warn doctors

Children living or attending schools close to major roads are exposed to more hazardous air pollution, warn health experts who are calling for sweeping laws to control vehicular emissions and so improve air quality.

Submission to the Better Fuel for Cleaner Air Discussion Paper

DEA welcomes the opportunity to respond to the discussion paper ‘Better Fuel for Cleaner Air’ and notes that the scope of the paper is limited to consideration of fuel quality standards while vehicle emission standards and fuel efficiency (greenhouse gas emissions per kilometre) are to be considered separately by the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.

Media release: Senate Inquiry – You’re more likely to die from air pollution than road accidents, NSW health experts warn

Air pollution endangers more lives than road deaths, doctors will tell a Senate Inquiry into the closure of coal-fired power stations on Wednesday.

Coal & Health Poster

Australia has abundant reserves of coal, which is mined to power the majority of our electricity generation and exported overseas for coking and power generation. Due to the apparent low cost of this abundant resource Australians are enthusiastically exploiting it as rapidly as possible.

Election Health Alert: DEA Climate Change Posters

DEA is keen for the electorate to take climate change seriously. It is imperative that the voters consider climate change as a priority when voting. As a result we have created two posters that can be distributed widely.

Where are the doctors when you need them?

The Australian medical fraternity spoke up about tobacco. So why the silence on another emerging killer?

Study: Walking can save lives and money

Research that Population Health Professor Marj Moodie and I have conducted has found that incidental physical activity from active transport, such as walking to catch the train to work or cycling to the shops, can save lives and money.

Independent Australia: Renewable Energy: It’s not a jump to the left.

With the first of RenewWA’s climate forums starting today at Edith Cowan University in W.A., Amy Marshall from Doctors for the Environment goes in to bat for renewable energy.

The True Cost of Coal Ash Flying in the Face of Port Augustans

Air pollution from blowing ash in Port Augusta in SA has become a major issue. This article and others on the topic of coal from the DEA team in SA has failed to be published in the Advertiser (NewsCorp). The dedication of the Australian newspaper and related papers to coal development, clean coal etc is in our view based on incorrect scientific interpretation and carries considerable concerns for individual and world health.

InDaily: Health the missing dimension in energy debate

The health impacts of burning fossil fuels should be front and centre in the national debate on the future of the electricity network, writes Adelaide doctor David Shearman.

Video: Climate change is a major health issue

DEA’s Michael Williams on why doctors are concerned about rising temperatures and what we can do about them in this terrific GetUp video.

Media release: Doctors concerned about ongoing and future health threats from Loy Yang B upgrade

2017 is not the year for the Victorian EPA to be approving an upgrade of a brown coal power plant, Loy Yang B, allowing the most polluting source of electricity production to continue for a further 30 years.

Oped: VIC Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) Review

The Victorian Government has recently completed its comprehensive review of the VIC Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and has committed $45.5 million over the next 18 months to extend its scope and powers, a sizable injection considering the EPAs current annual operating budget of approximately $70 million a year, suggesting a sincere desire by the Government for true reform.

Discussion paper: Federal Government planning to prevent and manage the health consequences of climate change

To address the health impacts of climate change – the greatest global health threat of the 21st century – national leadership and governance are needed.

DEA Adaptation Policy

Australia is poorly prepared for adequate adaptation to the health impacts of climate change and thus the community’s health and our health services are vulnerable.

The Guardian: Carbon countdown clock: how much of the world’s carbon budget have we spent?

One way of looking at emissions targets is as a fixed budget amount, or quota. This countdown shows one estimate of how long it will take to reach an amount of greenhouse gas emissions beyond which 2C of warming will be likely.

Online Opinion: Australian climate change policy isn’t working

With summer here, the brown, crunchy, lifeless patches on my lawn in Perth remind me that much of Australia is getting hotter and drier. Working in public health, it also reminds me of a call to action – not just for me, but for all of us. Not for more wetting agent and regular watering (although, yes, that will be needed).

Media release: Time to clean up our air

The community is paying the cost of polluted air through health problems such as heart disease, lung disease and asthma – largely caused by coal mining and coal-fired power generation. Doctors have made a submission on the NSW Clean Air Plan to urge action to improve health.

Tasmanian Energy Security Taskforce Submission

On reviewing the Interim report one is encouraged by the availability of natural energy resources in Tasmania. Unlike most other states Tasmania has three quarters of stationary energy available through hydro and it has unlimited wind, solar and other modalities which with storage would make the state self-sufficient in clean energy and attain zero emissions from its energy sector…….

Clean Air for NSW Consultation Paper Submission

We agree with the proposition that although NSW has relatively clean air by global standards, there is still a burden of disease attributable to air pollution and considerable health benefits available by improving air quality.

The West Australian: Climate change looms as fiery threat to State

It is bushfire season in WA again, and we know the wildfires are getting worse each year. The State Government is trying to ramp up awareness of the bushfire risk and more money is being put into firefighting services. This investment is desperately needed, but it is not nearly enough.

Online Opinion: Preserving our forests should be a top priority

The magnificent old growth forests of East Gippsland are a national treasure. Yet state-endorsed logging continues in this region, undermining the rich tapestry of plants and animals that support human health.

Australia’s increasing greenhouse emissions is freeloading on countries taking action to reduce them

Australia’s increase in greenhouse emissions is freeloading on other countries which are taking action to reduce them.

Media release: Medical experts call for a price rise on coal-fired power to protect health

New South Wales’ big five coal-fired power stations should pay 49 times more than they are paying for the pollution they emit, if we are to substantially improve public health.

Review of the Load-based Licensing Scheme (NSW) submission

Coal-fired power stations (CFPS) are substantial sources of air pollutants.

Open Forum: How to make your New Year sustainable

As the Australian Government’s climate change policy is struggling for credibility, it is more important than ever that we try to make a difference collectively and as individuals to help minimise global warming. Dr Kim Loo explains how.

Media release: Turnbull must consider his position if he cannot chair COAG Leaders meeting with an open mind

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull should consider his position if he is not prepared to listen with an open mind to the policy advice from the experts at the COAG Leaders meeting on Friday 9 December.

Media release: Former Australian of the Year warns Adani coalmine poses a significant public health risk

The announcement of a $1 billion loan from the Federal Government and the arrival in Australia this week of the head of Adani suggests Queensland’s giant Carmichael coal mine will go ahead, says former Australian of the Year and leading public health advocate Professor Fiona Stanley who is speaking on behalf of the medical group Doctors for the Environment Australia.

Renew Economy Oped: No social licence, no gas fracking in South Australia

In a state with a history of enlightened decisions, The final report of the South Australian Parliamentary Inquiry into unconventional gas (fracking) in the South East of South Australia the Committee has produced another one.

Heatwave Fact Sheet

Temperatures are expected to continue to increase in the 21st century due to climate change. The CSIRO & BOM predict that by 2070, temperatures in Australia will rise by up to 5°C with longer, hotter, more frequent heatwaves expected.

Media release: Government must phase out coal-fired power stations within the next decade

Doctors have welcomed the interim report of the Senate inquiry into the retirement of coal-fired power stations which was tabled on Monday, however they say it doesn’t go far enough.

SMH oped: We need to do more to understand the impact of climate change on our health

After the tragic deaths of eight people related to the recent outbreak of thunderstorm asthma in Melbourne, we need to consider the “perfect storm” of climate change.

The Conversation: Why coal-fired power stations need to shut on health grounds

The Senate inquiry’s report into the planned closure of coal-fired power stations will no doubt shed light on the compelling health reasons to close them.

Huffington Post: In The Mountains Of Timor-Leste, A Small Success On Climate Change from WithOneSeed

DEA member Ralph Lewis has drawn our attention to the program With One Seed, http://withoneseed.org.au/ involving reforestation, carbon capture as well as providing income for local landholders in Timor.

Open Forum: Nature as medicine

Anyone who studies medicine or has a career in medicine knows that if you allow it, it can consume your life.

Effects of plastics in the environment

An overview of concerns by DEA member A/Prof Vicki Kotsirilos

The impact of chemicals such as heavy metals and pesticides in the environment on human health is well recognised.1 What is not well recognised is the impact of plastics in the environment on human health.

Media release: Doctors slam Australia’s “shameful” ranking in climate change performance index

In what health experts describe as an “embarrassing and shameful” result, Australia has come in as one of the worst performers in an annual assessment of 61 nations’ climate policies, with only Korea, Kazakhstan, Japan and Saudi Arabia ranking worse.

Croakey: The new NT government is right to announce an inquiry into fracking

One of the outcomes of the Labor Party’s landslide election win in the Northern Territory earlier this year was a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing of onshore unconventional gas reservoirs (fracking), pending the outcome of an independent inquiry into the practice.

A call for submissions to the inquiry’s terms of reference closed recently, having garnered 364 submissions. One of them was from Doctors for the Environment Australia.

In the post below, Dr Rosalie Schultz and Dr David Shearman, both members of Doctors for the Environment Australia ask the important question of who benefits if fracking is allowed to go ahead in the NT, and give their recommendations for making sure health considerations are front and centre as the inquiry proceeds.

Retirement of coal-fired power stations submission

An urgent need to address carbon emissions and a move towards renewable energy are creating structural changes in energy supplies that are having, and will have, profound impacts on workers and communities in the energy sector. With knowledge and planning, those impacts can be attenuated, but without such planning, community and social effects can be long lasting…….

Media release: DEA welcomes landmark Lancet Countdown

Doctors for the Environment Australia has today welcomed the launch of the Lancet Countdown at the climate talks in Morocco, saying the landmark initiative would put pressure on Australia and other countries to keep the promises they made in the Paris agreement.

Media release: US election: Where to for health and the environment?

The results of the US election are in.

If Donald Trump does to the environment what he said he would do as President, the hard-fought progress to protect our ailing planet looks set to take a giant leap backwards- just at the crucial time when we need to take giant leap forwards to ensure our survival. The Lancet has described climate change as the biggest health threat of the 21st century.

Media release: SA Government urged to pull its weight in response to the climate meeting in Morocco

Doctors fear the SA State Government’s doubling of the air pollution cap signifies a possible “sell-out” to the gas industry, further undermining Australia’s already poor reputation at the first meeting of world leaders under the Paris agreement in Morocco starting this week.

SBS Comment: From Hazelwood to Marrakech – Australia needs to move away from coal

The climate change talks in Marrakech which start this week will put a spotlight on Australia’s poor contribution to the Paris agreement to keep world global average temperatures below 2 degrees.

Online opinion: The upside to Hazelwood’s closure

The ongoing speculation that the Hazelwood coal plant will shut down has resulted in the Latrobe Valley community unfairly suffering the threat of unemployment and disruption for too long.

Croakey: How a prescription for solar thermal treatment changed the health fortunes of a whole town

Many salutory lessons arise from this fascinating account of the role of health and medical expertise in the successful closure of polluting power stations in South Australia.

AMSJ: Climate change, the challenge to medicine in the 21st century

Medicine in the early decades of the 21st century offers great promise, powered by ready access to knowledge, innovative imaging and interventional technologies, sophisticated research, and personalised pharmaceuticals. Despite this, doctors of the next decades will be faced with unique national and global challenges that they are currently ill equipped to deal with.

Rocky Hill OpEd

Whether you are a Gloucester resident or a visitor to the area, we all appreciate Gloucester as an area of natural beauty. This of course makes it inconceivable to develop an open cut coalmine so close to town.

Finding the Northwest Passage – global warming upsets these ‘folk ‘as well

Peter Brooks recounts a very personal account of his recent trip – sailing in the footsteps of Franklin – with the stark impact of climate change on the Arctic and its populations.

Loy Yang B Works Approval Submission

Victoria’s coal fired power stations are responsible for almost 50% of the state’s climate pollution. It is impossible to make a difference to Victoria’s carbon pollution without addressing the operation of these power stations. Any energy derived from brown coal is ‘part of the problem’, as its GEI is above that achievable from other sources of electricity generation……….

Rocky Hill Coal Project Submission

To avoid a rise of greater than 2°C, 80% of known coal reserves must stay in the ground .

SMH oped: Mike Baird is wrong to support coal mines

Mike Baird has said his decision to overturn the ban on greyhound dog racing shows he is prepared to admit when his government has got it wrong. If this is true, it’s time he admitted he is wrong about his support of coal mining and take back his “no doubt coal is good” statement.

The Advertiser oped: Port Augusta power station must remain closed for the health of local community

THE Federal Government and state Liberals are demanding that Jay Weatherill’s Government should reopen the Port Augusta coal-fired power station.

NT Fracking Inquiry 2016

We acknowledge the Northern Territory Government for its implementation of a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing (fracking), and the establishment of this inquiry and public consultation.

Paris Agreement submission to the Treaties Committee

DEA is concerned with the projected devastating effects of climate change on human health (and by extension, all forms of life in the biosphere). We note that the Paris Agreement does not deal with health adequately. The Treaty does acknowledge, rather inconspicuously…….

Media release: Palaszczuk support For Carmichael mine will fail Australians, warn health experts

10 October 2016

The Queensland government’s push to speed up the approval process for Adani’s mega Carmichael mine project by declaring it a “prescribed project status” will increase illness and deaths from climate change, warn Australia’s leading doctors.

Jemena Northern Gas Pipeline Environmental Impact Statement NT Submission

The Terms of Reference of this Inquiry do not address the issues raised by DEA in our submission around the link between the pipeline project and the onshore gas development required to make the project viable.

Newcastle Herald: Climate change & health concerns drive opposition to Rocky Hill mine at Gloucester

GLOUCESTER is a rural area in the foothills of the World Heritage-listed Barrington Tops National Park which has a pristine environment of high ecological significance. It is inconceivable that an open cut mine that aims to extract 21 million tonnes of coal is planned for these parts, and will be within two kilometres of residential areas – places where people live and bring up families.

Open Forum: Using my money as a force for good

by Rebecca Tuma

Divestment is the opposite of investment and means getting rid of stocks, bonds or funds that are deemed unethical or morally ambiguous. Leading up to Divestment Day, Rebecca Tuma urges you to use your consumer power and put your money where your convictions are.

SBS Comment: Gutting ARENA is just sick – renewable energy saves lives and health costs

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency will be gutted by a funding cut of $500 million. But it’s at odds with the government’s claims to be innovative and support jobs and growth.

VIC Government Coal Policy submission

As part of the Victorian Government’s plans to move away from coal-fired power stations, the government established an independent review of coal policy. This review, together with the review of the Climate Change Act, the Renewable Energy Roadmap, and the Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry, will feed into a new coal policy which will take into account environmental, social and economic factors. Since about one-third of all Victoria’s emissions are from coal, and since the Victorian government had already committed to net zero emissions by 2050, DEA believes ambitious reduction in coal use is required.

Doctus Project: We must act on climate change, before it’s too late

Editorial by Patrick Walker, the Doctus Project

It is a bright, sunny afternoon in May, and Victoria’s hottest Autumn on record is drawing to a close. My colleague Jesse Schnall and I are waiting to meet with Dr John Iser, the Victorian Chair of Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA). DEA is a voluntary organisation made up of medical doctors from around Australia to address the threat climate change and environmental degradation pose to health. They work ‘to address…the diseases caused by damage to the Earth’s environment.’

Having both read the now famous 2009 Lancet report which concluded that climate change is the biggest threat to global health in the 21st century, we are intrigued to see what Dr Iser has to say on the issue. Does climate change really pose such a threat to our health? And if so, what should we – and our government – be doing about it?

Renew Economy Oped: Myth of gas; has South Australia capitulated to fossil fuels?

Gas is a seemingly difficult issue for governments. Looking at the health disasters of asbestos, tobacco and air pollution from coal, government ministers might wonder if they would have acted earlier had they been in power and reassured themselves they would. That is the problem, they are making decisions now based on political expediency which will leave their successors to face the potential health consequences.

Submission to the Senate Standing Committees on Economics

Doctors for the Environment Australia recommends that the present budget for ARENA be maintained as a preventative health measure.

Submission on Advancing Climate Action in Queensland: Making the transition to a low carbon future

Doctors for the Environment Australia has made many formal submissions from our medical and scientific experts and have had the opportunity to observe the processes and performance of successive Queensland governments. On this occasion we will make some general observations and comments in relation to the report “Advancing Climate Action in Queensland. Making the transition to a low carbon future”.

The Guardian: Cigarettes, asbestos, now fossil fuels. How big business impacts public health

The decisions reached at the recent Coag energy council meeting are reminiscent of a long series of failures to understand the impacts of powerful business on the health of the community.

Media release: Vic government gas ban a big win for health, say doctors

Doctors have applauded the Andrews government for prioritising the health of Victorians by placing a permanent ban on the development of onshore unconventional gas in Victoria.

Media release: Doctors slam Adani mine decision

Health experts have slammed today’s ruling in the Federal Court which approved Adani’s Carmichael mine, Australia’s biggest coal mine project, saying it would harm the health of millions of people in Australia and around the world.

Earth Resources Regulation Victoria submission

Building on experiences between farmers and gas drilling operators in other states, in the absence of baseline studies, contamination and pollution by exploration and mining activities cannot be proved and so cannot be attributed to such activities.  For example the Condamine River in Queensland…….

Rye Park Wind Farm Project Submission

DEA strongly advocates, for the health of the community, the phasing out of coal fired power stations.

Media release: Doctors warn against gas as a “transitional fuel” due to concerns about its safety

Australia must shelve plans to make gas a “transitional fuel” because it will worsen the climate change emergency, warn health experts in response to last Fridays COAG meeting of energy ministers.

Media release: Energy Ministers Urged to put Health at the Top of the COAG Agenda.

Energy ministers are being urged to put clean energy at the top of the COAG agenda to protect health.

Leading health experts are calling on the country’s energy ministers to make a firm commitment for a rapid replacement of coal and gas with renewable energy at Friday’s COAG meeting.

Submission on Protecting the Yarra River (Birrarung)

As medical doctors we welcome this opportunity to contribute to the community discussion about opportunities to improve the oversight and management of the Yarra River. We rely on natural ecosystems for clean air and water; healthy fertile soils in which to grow our food; a stable climate in which to thrive and a rich tapestry of living organisms- biodiversity- from which we have taken food and developed over half of the medicines in use today.

SBS: Gasfields – gambling with our health

As the Victorian government prepares to release its much anticipated gas policy, expected before parliament resumes on August 16, pro fossil fuel heavy weights have already jumped the starting line with misleading spin.

Independent Australia: Doctors call for fossils fuels to be labelled an unacceptable health hazard

Dr. Graeme McLeay from Doctors for the Environment urges us to contact our energy ministers before this month’s COAG meeting and tell them fossil fuels undermine our national security, economy and health.

Croakey: A timely examination of fracking concerns in the NT

Territorians love the natural environment. We enjoy the environment both for the exhilaration it gives us, and for its tourism value. We should also remember that our health depends on having clean air and water and safe food.

Media release: SA Power Crisis – Add the true costs of coal and gas to the energy bill, urge doctors.

Doctors have today described comments that renewable energy from solar and wind are causing the SA power “crisis” as disingenuous because they ignore the hefty costs of coal and gas to public health and to the health budget.

The Medical Republic: Encouraging healthy eating helps more than just our patients

There is much discussion in the medical and general media about the healthiness of food. Hardly surprising, as we face an unfolding epidemic of obesity, diabetes and other non-communicable diseases which, along with inactivity, are in large part related to our dietary excess.

Media release: Doctors deliver PM Turnbull Climate Change Survival Health Kit and open letter

Doctors will on Monday morning deliver Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull his very own Climate Change Survival Health Kit along with an open letter signed by over 350 health professionals to highlight that climate change is hazardous to health and must be tackled with urgency.

Natural gas development (UGD) and its implications for health

Natural Gas, composed mainly of methane with some other hydrocarbons, is categorised as conventional or unconventional depending on its source.

Unconventional gas and health – Fact Sheet

Unconventional gas is ‘natural gas’ that is trapped in rock from which it is difficult to extract, requiring specialised mining procedures and often access to large areas of land.

Unconventional Gas Development – DEA Position Statement

Unconventional gas development (UGD) is the extraction of natural gas which is difficult to access conventionally, from coal seams, shale or other rock formations, using techniques such as directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking). Hydraulic fracturing involves the pressurised injection of fluids, sand and chemical additives into rock to open up fractures, allowing gas to flow out.

Doctors calling on other health professionals to join the divestment movement

Croakey: Where does your bank stand on fossil fuels? A call for health professionals to divest.

Climate change is one of three “slow-motion disasters” shaping the global health landscape, together with the rise of antimicrobial resistance and non-communicable diseases, according to the World Health Organization’s Director General Dr Margaret Chan.

Doctors for the Environment Australia divests from Bank South Australia, a subsidiary of Westpac

DEA has today closed its accounts with Bank South Australia, a subsidiary of the Westpac Group. This large financial institution supports fossil fuel industries- the main driver of climate change which is threatening health. As doctors we have a duty of care to protect the public’s wellbeing. View our letter terminating our accounts.

Article; Newcastle Herald: We need a regional air quality plan for the Hunter

The recent studies of air pollution in the Hunter finally show us the constituents of pollution and points to the likely sources. We agree with the editorial comment (Newcastle Herald, April 30) that it is extraordinary that the EPA seems to have leapt to the defence of the coal industry, because a close look at the results shows that coal mining, transport and burning is a major contributor to pollution.

Submission to Victoria State Government on Protecting Victoria’s Environment – Biodiversity 2036

Our health is absolutely dependent on our natural environment. We rely on natural ecosystems for clean air and water, healthy, fertile soils in which to grow our food, a stable climate in which to thrive and a rich tapestry of living organisms- biodiversity- from which we have taken food and over half of the medicines in use today. Currently we are facing urgent threats to our wellbeing from climate change and biodiversity loss. As medical doctors we welcome this opportunity to provide input to the Victorian government’s review of biodiversity protection – a plan that is desperately needed to address the appalling rate of species extinction in our state.

Open Forum: Fossil fuel divestment: Why Australia’s uni students are turning the other cheek

Students across Australia are staging bold actions at their universities to demand divestment from fossil fuels. Why do the issues of climate change and fossil fuel investment resonate so strongly with university students? It’s about equality and justice, explains Damian Gill.

Submission to the Ministerial Forum on the Vehicle Emissions Discussion Paper

Vehicle emissions are a major public health issue with approximately 3,000 deaths per annum in Australia resulting from air pollution; a figure greater than total road accident deaths. A significant proportion of these deaths and the chronic illness of thousands more is caused by vehicular pollution.

Croakey: Health groups lead call to end investment in coal, oil and gas

A new paper Investing in Health, released this week by the Climate and Health Alliance and Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA), highlights the opportunity and the rationale for health and medical professionals to shift their investments away from coal, oil and gas industries.

In the piece below, Fiona Armstrong, Executive Director of CAHA and Dr Helen Redmond from DEA highlight the lead taken by international medical organisations in divesting in fossil fuels and argue that health professionals have both a moral and practical impetus to join the growing disinvestment movement.

Labor’s climate change policy is a step forward but more needs to be done, say doctors

Doctors welcome Labor’s policy to tackle climate change, but urge more robust action to reduce the numbers of Australians who are likely to get sick and to die as a result of rising temperatures.

Croakey article: Health groups lead call to end investment in coal, oil and gas

A new paper Investing in Health, released this week by the Climate and Health Alliance and Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA), highlights the opportunity and the rationale for health and medical professionals to shift their investments away from coal, oil and gas industries.

In the piece below, Fiona Armstrong, Executive Director of CAHA and Dr Helen Redmond from DEA highlight the lead taken by international medical organisations in divesting in fossil fuels and argue that health professionals have both a moral and practical impetus to join the growing disinvestment movement.

Media release: Doctors alarmed at new air pollution data call for immediate action

Doctors are alarmed at the latest air pollution data which shows emissions of key pollutants linked to respiratory and heart diseases is continuing to grow, and warn that more Australians will die or suffer illness as a result.

Media release: Launch of joint report urging the health sector to divest

Doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, health organisations and health super funds urged to quit coal, oil and gas

Investing in Health report: how health professionals can help shape the future

Doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, health organisations and health super funds urged to quit coal, oil and gas.

Doctors urge action from federal government to protect health from unconventional gas mining

Doctors from the health organisation Doctors for the Environment Australia, presenting before the Senate Committee on Unconventional Gas Mining in Darwin on Tuesday 12 April, said after a previous Senate Inquiry and numerous state inquiries, Australian governments have still not done enough to protect public health.

Unconventional Gas Mining. DEA evidence to the Select Committee

Unconventional Gas Mining – Adequacy of Australia’s legislative, regulatory and policy framework.

Submission on Petroleum (Environment) Regulations – Northern Territory

….oil and gas developments must be undertaken in a manner that will both protect the health of its citizens, preserve and enhance the Territory’s unique surroundings, our way of life and ensure the viability of other crucial sectors of our economy such as agriculture and tourism……

Media Release: New Fact Sheet – Climate change impacts on health

Doctors have today launched a climate change and health fact sheet describing the catastrophic consequences a continued rise in global temperature will have on the health of our families and communities, unless we act immediately.

Climate Change & Health in Australia Fact Sheets

Doctors for the Environment Australia has developed this fact sheet to outline the effects of climate change on human health particularly in Australia, and how health can benefit from efforts to lessen and prevent climate change. The recent Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has once more highlighted the urgent need for action to limit global warming.

Climate Change and Health in Australia Fact Sheets

Doctors for the Environment Australia has developed this fact sheet to outline the effects of climate change on human health particularly in Australia, and how health can benefit from efforts to lessen and prevent climate change. The recent Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has once more highlighted the urgent need for action to limit global warming.

SMH oped: Coal marketing should come with a health warning

The NSW Minerals Council’s new campaign extolling the virtues of coal mining was launched on Tuesday, and according to their media release it is due to appear on NSW television screens this month.

Renew Economy oped: Government somnolence on climate change health costs

Climate change is described by leaders of the medical profession as the greatest health risk of this century. Its health impacts are already significant both internationally and in Australia and are predicted to increase with rising temperatures. The severity of natural disasters from extreme weather events is increased by climate change and is an important cause of harms to our health.

Advertiser: Nuclear waste dump just another bad option — what about renewable energy?

South Australia’s recent Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission has recommended avoiding some bad options: no nuclear power generation and no reprocessing or fuel leasing in the foreseeable future.

Submission to Tasmania’s draft climate change action plan 2016-2021

Tasmania and Australia more broadly, is already experiencing the human health impacts of longer, hotter and more frequent heatwaves , with recent heatwaves around Australia producing increased hospital admissions and deaths, and putting extra strain on healthcare and emergency services. Recent years have also seen increasingly frequent and severe bushfires in Tasmania. Bushfires pose numerous risks to health including direct injuries, burns and deaths from the fires themselves, as well as through cardiorespiratory effects of smoke on people living hundreds or even thousands of kilometres away….

Submission to the Select Committee on Unconventional Gas Mining

DEA is of the view that a national approach is essential to reduce the extensive risks associated with unconventional gas mining.

Media release: Failure to include health risks grossly distorts true costs of climate change, warn doctors

It’s very likely that Australians will suffer more ill health requiring attention from GPs and hospitals because of climate change- however scant attention is being given to health, medical experts will argue today in a submission to the Climate Change Authority.

Media release: Doctors call on the Andrews Government to act urgently on climate law recommendations

Doctors for the Environment Australia is urging the Victorian State Government to implement quickly and comprehensively the findings of the Independent Review Committee, which this week handed down its report on the Climate Change Act.

Submission on the Draft Report on Australia’s climate policy option (Climate Change Authority)

It is a great disappointment that numerous Climate Change Authority discussions and documents on the issue of climate change have failed to emphasise its impact on health. To avoid widespread, severe and irreversible impacts associated with present trajectory of 4 degrees of global warming, urgent action must be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  The response of Government thus far has been grossly inadequate – and that Australia needs to commit to a reduction target on 2020 levels of at least 40% by 2025 and a reduction of at least 95% by 2050. This is the only way that we might be able to confine global temperature rise to 2°C and thus avoid severe consequences to human health.  The time to act is now.

Submission on the SA Environment Protection (Air Quality) Policy 2016

The Global Burden of Disease report from WHO estimates that ambient air pollution is responsible for 3.7 million deaths worldwide (2012 estimate).

Croakey comment: Victorian moratorium on unconventional gas

Medical professionals and organisations, together with community members, raised serious concerns about the health impacts of unconventional gas extraction in submissions to a recent Victorian Parliamentary inquiry.

Media release: Doctors call on environment ministers to adopt strict air pollution laws

Doctors urge state and federal environment ministers not to cave in to pressure from the mining industry and support the adoption of strong national air pollution standards at Tuesday’s 15 December meeting.

Media release: Doctors urge ban on fracking to continue

A ban on coal seam and other forms of onshore gas in Victoria should continue until it can be shown that developing this resource will not compromise public health, doctors urge ahead of an inquiry that is due to report on 8 December.

MJA: Climate change is harmful to our health: taking action will have many benefits

With the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) now underway, Associate Professor Linda Selvey’s Perspectives article on the health impacts of global warming in the Medical Journal of Australia is both timely and compelling.

Media release: Doctors extend their sympathies to those affected by the South Australian bushfires

Doctors extend their sympathies to those affected by the South Australian bushfires, and call for strong action on climate

Croakey Blog: Calling for a health impact assessment on Perth’s Roe 8 road project

Local media reported today that drilling had begun in the Beeliar wetlands in Perth’s south for the construction of the controversial Roe 8 highway extension, planned as the first stage of the Western Australian Government’s $1.6 billion Perth Freight Link.

What can I do for the Environment? By Dr Helen Redmond

In the first of a two-part video, Dr Helen Redmond, Rehabilitation Physician, introduces Doctors for the Environment Australia- who we are, what we do and why we do it.

Open letter calling Health Minister Sussan Ley to attend climate talks

Parents, Grandparents and Concerned Adults: SIGN THE OPEN LETTER

Support Our Call For The Health Minister To Attend The Paris Meeting On Climate Change This December- And Put The Health Of Our Children Front And Centre

The Canberra Times comment: Coal: The (real) moral case

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is the latest in a line of senior politicians and coal industry figures to endorse future coal exports, stating this week that “… energy poverty is one of the big limits on global development in terms of achieving all of the development goals, alleviating hunger and promoting prosperity right around the world – energy is an absolute critical ingredient. So coal will play a big part in that.”

The Saturday Paper: How the Minerals Council of Australia has govt’s ear on coal

Coal interests are over-represented on the board of the Minerals Council of Australia, and they continue to promote the so-called benefits of coal to a largely compliant government even when the evidence points the other way, argues journalist Mike Seccombe in this Saturday Paper feature article.

Article; SMH: Volkswagen may have helped expose silent, invisible killer: outdoor air pollution

Along with denting its share price and reputation, Volkswagen may have inadvertently helped address one of the most neglected and insidious public health problems of our time.

Submission to the SA Government on Developing a New Climate Change Strategy for South Australia

Climate change is a priority issue for DEA. As the 1st Lancet Commission on Climate Change and Health stated in 2009, “climate change is the greatest threat to human health of the 21st century”. The consultation papers for “Developing a New Climate Change Strategy for SA” make very little reference to health. DEA believes health is central to any strategy around climate change as affirmed by the Lancet publications cited above. Our foremost recommendation is to prepare this consultative document urgently.

Border Watch: Fracking facts shared at inquiry

Associate Professor of public health Dr Melissa Haswell presents the health harms linked to hydraulic fracturing at the parliamentary inquiry into coal seam gas in South Australia.?

Newcastle Herald: OPINION: Air pollution needs action

AIR quality has been a community concern in Newcastle for many years. When the results of  the first 12 months of air quality monitoring  became available from new monitors in Carrington and Stockton, it became clear that this region has some of the worst air quality in NSW.

Huffington Post: Old King Coal Is A Desperate Old Soul

The coal industry’s latest PR escapade paints coal as an amazing, versatile commodity with almost limitless possibilities, providing seemingly endless energy and employment.

Article; Newcastle Herald: Air pollution needs action

AIR quality has been a community concern in Newcastle for many years. When the results of  the first 12 months of air quality monitoring  became available from new monitors in Carrington and Stockton, it became clear that this region has some of the worst air quality in NSW.

Geelong Advertiser: Cheap energy not worth fracking risks

On the surface, the unconventional gas industry promises many things, including cheap energy and jobs. However in this comment piece in the Geelong Advertiser, Dr Liz Bashford says that the risks from unconventional gas are potentially serious for both human health and the environment.

AFR: First State Super slaps companies with more than 20pc coal, oil and gas revenue

One of Australia’s biggest industry funds, First State Super, recently announced it was is divesting its socially responsible funds from all companies that source more than 20 per cent of their operating revenue from coal, oil and gas.

The Australian Financial Review’s Amanda Saunders wrote a story which in part credited DEA for its involvement in the initiative. She wrote: “doctors who pushed for the move say they have a  “moral imperative” to support the transition to a renewable economy” and that divestment is “a public health measure”.

SMH: Air pollution is like smoking a cigarette each day, doctors warn

Air pollution in Newcastle, NSW, is so bad that it is equivalent to smoking a cigarette a day, according to a group of doctors who have called on the state government to take immediate action to protect local residents, especially children, reports Natalie O’Brien in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Victoria’s Renewable Energy Roadmap Submission

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), climate change from global warming is one of the greatest threats to public health and it will affect, in profoundly adverse ways, some of the most fundamental pre-requisites for good health: clean air and water, sufficient food, adequate shelter and freedom from disease……..

Article; SMH: Air pollution is like smoking a cigarette each day, doctors warn

Air pollution in parts of NSW is so bad that it is equivalent to smoking a cigarette a day, according to a group of doctors who have called on the state government to take immediate action.

Review of the Climate Change Act (2010) – Victoria

Global warming is the driver of climate change, although we note that there is no mention of “global warming” in the Act of 2010. It is warming of the land, seas and atmosphere close to earth’s surface and subsequent changes to our climate that is predicted to cause increasingly profound harmful effects to human health and well being unless greenhouse gas emissions are reduced substantially within the next decade……

Medical Observer comment: Why doctors must lead fossil fuel fight

IN 2013, the federal government’s Future Fund and many superannuation funds dumped investments in tobacco companies following a long campaign by health groups.

Divestment

The following DEA Divestment resources are available for use by community groups:

Renewable Energy

The following DEA resources are available for use by community groups:

Hazelwood Coal Mine Fire Inquiry Submission

DEA has an extensive history of advocating for the protection of health in relation to the coal industry nationally and in Victoria. Specifically relevant to the residents of Morwell and surrounding areas was DEA’s opposition at the VCAT in 2010 to the EPA approved development of a new coal fuelled power plant to be built by Dual Gas Pty Ltd. This power plant would have been situated 1 km from the Morwell township boundary, and DEA was greatly concerned for the health of local residents from an additional local air pollution source and the health implications globally from commissioning a new coal fuelled power plant when renewable alternatives are available…..

Fact Sheet the human health tolls of coal

– The burning of coal emits hazardous air pollutants, including particulate matter, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide, mercury and arsenic.

Coal

The following DEA Coal resources are available for use by community groups:

Croakey blog: A shout out to health professionals: act now for a cool planet

JENNIFER DOGGETT: The medical profession has taken a lead role in many respects on climate change and environmental issues but there is still scope for more to be done. In the following piece, Dr Sujata Allan, argues that doctors have both a responsibility and a unique role in play in advocating for greater action to combat climate change. She also offers a number of practical suggestions for how members of the medical profession can become more involved at a personal and professional level in preventing the harms associated with climate change.

Brisbane Times oped: Tackle climate change, our health depends on it

Climate change has become a highly polarised issue in Australia, with the focus on the economic and political costs and risks.

Inquiry into Unconventional Gas in Victoria – July 2015

In recent years, Australia has seen exponential growth in interest and development of exploration and drilling for unconventional gas reserves from coal seams, shale deposits and tight sands. These reserves require special techniques such as fracking, in-seam and horizontal drilling. DEA is concerned that the rush to exploit this resource has outpaced regulation to protect public health and to adequately assess the health impacts, including exposures to industrial chemicals.

Canberra Times Opinion: Invisible killer – need for better air quality standards is urgent

In Australia there are 3000 deaths each year from air pollution, which is more than from traffic accidents. Imagine the nightly TV news – instead of the twisted car metal and bodies, they show a child fighting for breath from asthma being loaded into an ambulance in Bulga, or a patient with a heart attack in the Latrobe Valley.

Newcastle Herald Opinion: Planning for better air quality

THE evidence for harmful health effects from particulate air pollution has become stronger over the years, so periodic review of air quality regulations in keeping with current science is vital for the protection of human health.

Article; SMH: Invisible killer – need for better air quality standards is urgent

In Australia there are 3000 deaths each year from air pollution, which is more than from traffic accidents. Imagine the nightly TV news – instead of the twisted car metal and bodies, they show a child fighting for breath from asthma being loaded into an ambulance in Bulga, or a patient with a heart attack in the Latrobe Valley.

Submissions on the Warkworth Continuation Project and the Mt Thorley Continuation Project

Of the many pending approvals of new mines in NSW, DEA made submissions on these interrelated mines for two reasons:

Leading doctors say we’re failing our kids

A group of leading doctors, many of them grandparents, has called for action on a threat they say needs priority attention. The doctors say failure to act on this threat means we are failing in the most “fundamental call of humanity” – that is, to nurture its young.

Oped in the Guardian: Don’t care about climate change? What about the health of children?

Climate change is not just an urgent environmental issue; it is having a devastating effect on the health of our children, says this comment piece in Guardian Australia which was co-written by leading paediatrician and former Australian of the Year, Professor Fiona Stanley, who is also a member of DEA’s Scientific Committee, and DEA’s Advocacy and Policy Officer as well as GP, Dr Sallie Forrest.

Media Release: DEA welcomes RACP’s announcement to divest from fossil fuels

Doctors for the Environment Australia welcomes the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) announcement this week that it will divest investments in companies involved in fossil fuel activities from its  $90 million investment portfolio.

Report: No Time for Games: Children’s Health and Climate Change

DEA’s report No Time for Games: Children’s Health and Climate Change shines the national spotlight on the potential health harms that children especially face from global warming, and calls for swift and decisive action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

DEA Report; No Time for Games: Children’s Health and Climate Change

DEA’s report No Time for Games: Children’s Health and Climate Change shines the national spotlight on the potential health harms that children especially face from global warming, and calls for swift and decisive action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.