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.
Medical group Doctors for the Environment Australia says a much better alternative would be developing employment plans for all coal fired power stations now – to be ready when needed.
DEA is supported by a Nobel laureate, recipients of the Australia of the Year award and deans from leading medical schools across Australia.
Spokesperson for the group, Dr David Shearman, says that reducing air pollution and cutting greenhouse emissions must be front and centre in any policy changes to the power supply.
“A low energy target is an obvious advance on 10 years of culpable neglect, but we have to ask if human health has been fully considered in the Finkel report.
“This is no time to capitulate to the fossil industry and their interests.
“Clean coal proposals and continuation of present polluting power stations is a sop when wind and solar are already cheaper than coal. They’re much cheaper if the health costs of coal are added in, and even more so if you include the cost of greenhouse damage created by coal burning.
“Doctors are seeing in their surgeries and hospital clinics the very real suffering that the mining and burning of coal is having on health and wellbeing.
“Air pollution from coal is killing people and causing chronic illness, including asthma, heart and lung diseases.
“We are also troubled by the current trajectory of global warming which will threaten health in many ways.
“Australia’s emissions from energy production have risen in the first months of this year. We are already experiencing many extreme weather events, which are just a taste of things to come if we don’t take effective action.
“We have got to stop burning coal, gas and oil, and opt for clean and healthy alternatives such as sun, wind and waves, supported by storage and sophisticated switching.
“Gas too is problematic. The mining, processing, and transport of gas produce methane, which causes 72 times more greenhouse emissions than carbon dioxide over a 20- year time frame. Unfortunately its use will be favoured if the benchmark for emissions per MWhr is too low.”
Dr David Shearman, 0481 154 805
DEA Submission to Finkel review based on health needs
DEA submission on retirement of coal fired power stations based on health needs