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.
The call comes from a doctors’ group, Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA), ahead of a major conference on Tuesday by the Australian Panel of Experts on Environmental Law and the Places You Love Environmental Alliance, of which DEA is a member.
The conference will offer a structure for a new generation of environmental laws in Australia.
“Leadership is desperately needed to prepare the public for momentous action,” says DEA spokesperson Dr David Shearman.
“A proposal will be made at the conference for an independent Commission, a most important single step towards addressing climate change and biodiversity loss. Action on both is vital for the other two pillars of human health, water and food.”
DEA’s vision is that a National Environment Commission would have the overall responsibility for ensuring some climate laws and mechanisms to reduce emissions and address related health measures.
“Climate change is a complex science requiring knowledge and understanding,” says Dr Shearman. “A commission would ensure we’d have no more political back flips, just sound policy.”
Like the Reserve Bank, the proposed Commission would be underpinned by legislation and would comprise independent experts appointed by government from a range of disciplines, including health.
These experts would analyse the science and technology, and the necessary outcomes would be delivered by governments and Ministers via a new National Environmental Protection Authority.
The Commission would also have power to set binding national air pollution standards to uniformly protect communities from pollution across Australia and make a national plan to protect threatened species and vital national resources, such as the Murray River.
Says Dr Shearman, "A stable climate and the biodiversity in the environment are vital to our health and survival."
"But only last week we have seen the Earth’s greenhouse gas emissions creep up once more, extreme weather events increase bringing more death and destruction, while the UN recently met to consider landmark reports on accelerating biodiversity loss."
"In response to these threatening changes the government prevaricates and appeases its skeptics with a National Energy Guarantee proposal that sustains coal and reduces renewable energy development."
"Lack of vital action is now culpable, and Australians deserve better on energy policy which reduces greenhouse gas emissions."
"An independent National Environment Commission tasked with ensuring that we take real and urgent steps to reducing the risks of climate change are well and truly overdue."
For health comment: Dr David Shearman (DEA) 0481 154 805
For APEEL and PYL comment: Nicola Rivers (Environmental Justice Australia) 0410 668 755
DEA health and climate change fact sheet
DEA is an independent organisation of medical doctors protecting health through care of the environment http://dea.org.au
We are supported by a Scientific Committee of distinguished health experts: Prof Stephen Boyden AM, Prof Emeritus Chris Burrell AO, Prof Peter Doherty AC, Prof Michael Kidd AM, Prof David de Kretser AC, Prof Stephen Leeder AO, Prof Ian Lowe AO, Prof Robyn McDermott, Prof Lidia Morawska, Prof Peter Newman AO, Prof Emeritus Sir Gustav Nossal AC, Prof Hugh Possingham, Prof Lawrie Powell AC, Prof Fiona Stanley AC, Dr Rosemary Stanton OAM, Dr Norman Swan