Doctors have today condemned the Government’s announcement to weaken the Renewable Energy Target, saying it will increase the number of deaths and sickness across Australia- especially among vulnerable people such as children, the elderly and those with chronic illness.
Doctors for the Environment Australia spokesperson Dr David Shearman says, “The neutering of the RET shows we have an ideological Government with disregard for the health of Australians, as well as for evidence-based medicine which quite clearly shows the devastating harm that fossil fuel has on our health, our families’ health and the health of our communities.”
Long term exposure to fine particulate pollution (PM2.5) from coal fired power generation accounts for 1590 deaths in Australia’s four main cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth every year, more than the national road toll which last year stood at 1193 deaths.
The short term impact of PM2.5 include 2070 hospital admissions for heart disease annually across these cities, while larger PM10 particles are estimated to cause 1130 hospital admissions every year for respiratory problems. Health care associated with coal fired power generation emissions has been conservatively estimated at $2.6 billion a year in Australia.
“As doctors we are very concerned about public health and the RET is a successful public health measure which should be expanded rather than curtailed in the short term interest of the fossil fuel industries,” says Dr Shearman.