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

August 18 2016

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.

Doctors for the Environment Australia- a medical advocacy group that includes a Nobel laureate, recipients of the Australia of the Year award and deans from medical schools- are calling for a number of recommendations (below) to protect Australians’ right to clean air, land and water as well as a stable climate.

DEA says ministers must resist fossil fuel interests using the recent SA “energy crisis”, which was incorrectly blamed on wind energy, to push for more coal and gas production, which we know are hazardous to health.

“That would be a disastrous outcome, and would hold back the shift to renewables,” says DEA spokesperson Dr Graeme McLeay.

“When you account for the harms fossil fuels have on people’s health, and for the cost of health services to deal with the pollution to our environment, plus the social and farming disruption, industry subsidies and mine rehabilitation, fossil fuels have questionable economic value.

“And worst of all, money will be diverted away from proven clean energy technologies and future developments which can provide enough capacity and storage for all the power we need, and help meet the commitment we made to keep temperatures below 2 degrees at the climate change meeting in Paris.

Global temperatures continue to warm even as the El Nino event is fading.  NASA data shows last month as the hottest month on record, and that this is the 10th record hot month in a row.

“The special meeting of COAG for energy ministers is a fork in the road for our nation, “ says Dr McLeay.

“A wrong turn will see us going back to fossil fuels, turning away investment in clean energy, and denying the wishes of a majority of Australians who want action on climate change. “

Key Recommendations

Further development of Unconventional Gas should not be supported

  • Where states have indicated their strong opposition because of health risks through direct pollution and potential pollution of aquifers
  • Where states already have ample reserves of off-shore natural gas
  • In regions where UG mining would detract from farming prime agricultural land

UG in other states should be gradually phased out because

  • The extra gas is unnecessary; there are ample reserves of natural gas
  • Companies are more interested in making profits by selling to the lucrative overseas market than by channelling to the local market
  • Fossil fuel mining in all its forms need to be reduced in order to honour our global commitments


Dr Graeme McLeay, 0429 416 172

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