Media release: Doctors take a stand against banking giants’ support of fossil fuels

18 May 2016

Doctors take a stand against banking giants’ support of fossil fuels

Leading medical organisation Doctors for the Environment Australia will today close its accounts with Bank South Australia, because it’s a subsidiary of Westpac which is failing to walk the talk on climate change.

DEA says that while Bank SA might not have any direct relationship with fossil fuel organisations, South Australia’s largest financial institution is owned by Westpac which continues to support  the coal, gas and oil sector that is largely responsible for climate change.

DEA says it’s hypocritical for Westpac to  publicly accept the need to contain climate change, while at the same time directly fund fossil fuel industries.

Says DEA spokesperson Dr Doug Shaw, “It’s vital that doctors make a stand. As health professionals we have a duty of care to protect the community’s health. “

In its letter to the bank DEA states that:

  • Divestment action has in the past been successfully used to tackle threats to human wellbeing. For example, divestment from the tobacco industry put its harmful effects clearly on the social and political agenda.
  • The health threats of fossil fuels are even more significant. They are the greatest driver of climate change, which has been described as the defining health issue of the 21st century.
  • Ongoing funding of the fossil fuel sector will make it impossible to achieve the targets set out at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, the result of which will be devastating for humanity.
  • DEA and a growing body of other medical colleges and institutions both in Australia and around the world recognise the need for fossil fuel divestment.

Says Dr Shaw, “Only this week we have heard reports from a monitoring centre in Tasmania that atmospheric carbon-dioxide has exceeded 400 parts per million for the first time, while last month was the hottest April on record- the seventh month in a row to have broken global temperature records.

“These changes will impact on our health and stretch our resources, while continued use of fossil fuels will eventually lead to a hostile planet.

“Failure to address climate change is not an option, it is gross negligence because we have the means and the know-how to do something about it.

“There is a small window of opportunity to act, but the evidence shows it is closing fast and we must act now with great speed and urgency. “

Details of letter delivery

Group of DEA doctors and supporters will deliver the letter to the Bank SA headquarters at 97 King William St, Adelaide, at 1pm today

Contacts

Dr Doug Shaw, 0408 679 347

Adelaide public health physician

Dr John Willoughby, 0499 078 938

Professor Emeritus of Medicine, Flinders University

Resources

Letter to Bank SA

http://dea.org.au/images/general/Bank_SA_-_closure_of_accounts_05-16.pdf

Investing in Health report

http://dea.org.au/images/general/Investing_in_Health_04-16.pdf

Westpac statement on keeping temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius

http://www.westpac.com.au/about-westpac/sustainability-and-community/environment/climate-change/

 

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