DEA's 2019/20 Annual Report is now available! We highlight some of the many extraordinary activities that DEA has achieved during what has been a momentous 2019/20.
Thank you to the many hundreds of DEA members whose energy, input and actions have made DEA what it is.
Doctors are urging all state and federal governments to set emissions targets to zero as quickly as possible to address dangerous climate change. Medical group Doctors for the Environment Australia is responding to the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO’s State of the Climate report released on Friday.
The UK's NHS has announced a wide-sweeping plan to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2040, the first national health system in the world to do so, writes Dr Caroline Lee. It’s ambitious. It’s necessary. It’s the right thing to do. If the UK can do it, why can't we?
Doctors for the Environment Australia has welcomed the NSW Government's electricity infrastructure roadmap for the orderly switch of NSW's energy supply from coal to renewable energy sources. The burning of coal imposes a direct health burden on the people of NSW through air pollution, and an indirect burden through climate change, worsening bushfires, droughts and extreme weather.
The latest edition of DEA's popular podcast is now available!
Join hosts Drs Kaiya Ferguson and Karin English talk to author and journalist Paddy Manning about Body Count. This book puts a human face on the climate crisis: the personal stories of tragedy and loss, resilience and hope.
Body Count features many DEA members!!
Given Australia’s rich natural endowment, Northern Territory GP Dr Rosalie Schultz asks: why was Australia missing in action during the recent United Nations Biodiversity Summit? If, as our representatives stated at the Summit, we cannot adopt biodiversity protection because it is inconsistent with our policy direction, then we must urgently change course.
"In a future where climate change looms large as a threat to health and where our primary disease burden is shaped by lifestyle and environment, shouldn’t we place health front and centre of our COVID-19 economic recovery and dare to reimagine our cities and energy systems, that our children might have a healthy future?" asks GP and DEA Honorary Secretary Dr Richard Yin.
"Congratulations to the Medical Journal of Australia for emphasising the role of health professionals in needing to lead by example towards a sustainable future," write Drs Eugenie Kayak, Forbes McGain and Hayden Burch in their letter to the editor. "Talley's editorial encourages health care professionals to reduce health care's own carbon footprint and pollution...”
We’re thrilled that DEA member Dr Helen Redmond is one of the speakers in the TedX Darlinghurst Countdown in Sydney this Thursday! Helen will be making the link between the climate crisis and its impacts on human health, and highlight that the antidote to worsening global warming is #ClimateActionNow. Get your tickets today!
Inclusion of a grant in the federal budget for Vales Point power station is an outrageous misuse of public funds, says Doctors for the Environment Australia's spokesperson Dr Ben Ewald. Rather than a grant, pollution fees for this NSW power station would be more appropriate given the risks it poses to health.
With Budget 2020 now upon us, our federal government has an opportunity to implement policies that address the COVID-19 economy recovery and climate change, which also has potentially catastrophic health and economic impacts for current and future generations. So what are DEA's budget asks?
The Environment and Planning Committee of the Victorian Legislative Assembly has called for submissions to an inquiry into the current and future arrangements to secure environmental
infrastructure, particularly parks and open space, for a growing population in Melbourne
and across regional centres. DEA strongly endorses the view that the environmental and social conditions in which people live and work are now widely
accepted as important determinants of health and illness and that human health must be considered in all policies related to planning environmental
infrastructure. Click here for DEA's submission
A consultation paper was released by the federal Department of Health calling for feedback on a National Preventive health framework to guide its strategy for the next decade. The consultation paper failed to fully consider the underlying environmental and social determinants of health which is a vital part of any preventive health strategy. DEA provided a submission to comment on the consultation paper and DEA recommended actions to mobilise an effective preventive system that included leadership and effective action for an immediate reduction in fossil fuel usage, better preparation for extreme weather events, and better safeguards and protections for Australia’s environments.
DEA’s submission is here.
Doctors for the Environment Australia commends England's National Health Service (NHS) commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040, and calls on the Australian health sector to likewise commit to a net-zero target.
Both climate change and COVID-19 are major public health threats, writes Dr Dimity Williams. We must act urgently to combat the acute health threats whilst simultaneously taking steps to prevent future pandemics and climate related extreme weather events. Protecting the natural environment and restoring those ecosystems already damaged is part of the necessary response.
Several doctors speak powerfully about their lived experiences of the summer's horror bushfires--both from a personal perspective and also professionally. For Drs Kim Loo, Michelle Hamrosi and Trudi Beck, the human toll of the climate crisis has pushed them to become active and join climate advocacy groups such as DEA.
The health of the planet and human health are intimately linked and putting public money into climate-wrecking fossil fuels such as gas is one road map we don't want to follow, writes Dr Anna Seth. Passive hope is not enough, however. We need to respond to the climate emergency as we would to a disaster, because it is. Show children you care about their future by supporting today's School Strike 4 Climate action.
Australia’s power stations are located near regional towns such as Morwell, Victoria, Muswellbrook, New South Wales, and Gladstone, Queensland, or in rural areas well away from cities, writes Dr Ben Ewald. So most people living in cities would assume that they are protected from coal-fired air pollution by distance from the source.
However a new Greenpeace report shows this is not the case, and substantial damage to our health from coal derived pollution is also occurring in major cities.
The Victorian Government is to be congratulated for its decision to drive the COVID-19 recovery with investments in clean energy ('A shot in the arm:' Victoria backs clean energy in bid to fuel COVID-19 recovery, The Age, 1 Sep). With Australia still reeling from a summer of fires and smoke pollution that contributed to thousands of hospital admissions and hundreds of deaths, this not only represents a means of creating jobs and stimulating the economy but also protecting health.
COVID-19 has infected and killed over 500 people in Australia and impacted thousands more. Dr Graeme McLeay and A/Prof Vicki Kotsirilos AM state that there is, however, another silent and largely ignored health hazard, and that is air pollution.
Approximately 3,000 premature deaths occur each year as a result of air pollution. About half of these deaths come from transport pollution, with cars contributing the bulk of that. With Australia’s air quality standards currently under review, we have an opportunity to introduce laws that will substantially improve the air we breathe.
As emissions plunge to their lowest levels in 30 years as a result of COVID-19, and the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reductions Angus Taylor pushes for the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to fund new gas projects, Dr George Crisp warns gas is not a transition fuel- rather it's no better than coal in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Dr Crisp urges the federal government to place evidence-based solutions that address climate change at the core of Australia's pandemic economic recovery.
Human health is indivisible from healthy, biodiverse
ecosystems. When we allow biodiversity and ecosystems to decline or be lost, we
compromise the essentials for survival - our food security, our water resources, the
air we breathe and the stability of our climate. Addressing the ecosystem decline in Victoria will be an enormous challenge, however DEA believes the potential negative consequences of inaction to human health and welling being , makes it clear that immediate action is needed. Click here to read DEA's full submission
The Western Australian government recently called for submissions on their A Stronger Tomorrow - State Infrastructure Strategy discussion paper. DEA supports the concept and proposal of taking a long term and broad approach
to infrastructure planning and development starting with an assessment of
Our view as a medical organisation is that health should be a central
consideration in planning, development and policy. DEA identified notable health
related omissions both in content and methodology in the discussion paper and
scenarios. To read DEA's full submission click here
As the EPBC debate is expected to resume in Federal Parliament as early as tomorrow, a prominent medical group warns an attempt by the Scott Morrison Government to rush legislation to weaken Australia’s environmental protections, will have major health costs now and in the longer term.
AGL and APA are seeking approval for the building of an LNG import facility and pipeline in Western Port, Victoria. The area is environmentally sensitive, in the middle of a Ramsar wetland, and has generated fierce community, Council and MP opposition. DEA's Submission.
DEA recently provided input into the Productivity Commission’s Draft Report
on Resources Sector Regulation as regulation of this sector has the task of
balancing economic gains from extraction with losses from environmental
destruction and pollution. DEA believes that all resource sector activities should consider short- and long term health and environmental impacts, and work within a system that respects
expertise, fairness, transparency and accountability. Click here to read the full submission
Zoonosis is an infectious
disease that can be passed from
an animal to a human. Our newest fact sheet explores zoonotic diseases, how ongoing human encroachment on natural habitats has led to an increase in zoonotic diseases over the past 30 years, posing a major risk to the human race and how it is vital that we start
protecting and preserving
nature so that it can protect us.
August's edition of the Australian Journal of General Practice features an article by DEA members outlining the health impacts of climate change and the role of GPs in responding to these impacts. The article contends that "While the clinical skills that underpin the practice of medicine have not changed, the environmental and planetary context has shifted" and outlines actions that GPs can take at a personal, practice and professional level.
We wish to thank the AMA, RACGP, RACP, ACEM, RANZCP, RANZCOG, ACRRM, CICM, and AMSA for signing the #HealthyRecovery joint letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison. The letter from Australia's peak medical groups, representing most of the nation's doctors, which DEA coordinated draws attention to the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change as two global health emergencies that the nation must respond to. It strongly urges the federal government to take a health-centred approach to the COVID-19 recovery by transitioning away from coal and gas to renewables, electric vehicles, and public transport. The letter attracted a large number of media hits which we list.
As a sign of the rising concern within the health profession of the health risks posed by climate change, Australia’s peak medical groups have issued a joint statement calling on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to place health at the centre of Australia’s Covid-19 pandemic economic response. The groups represent around 90,000 individual doctors and all of the nation’s GPs, emergency room doctors, physicians, obstetricians, psychiatrists, and intensive care specialists.
On Monday July 20, the interim report of the EPBC Act review was released by Professor Graeme Samuel, the chair of the review panel. This included some positive proposals, but on the whole failed to present a reform agenda commensurate with the environmental crisis we face. In fact, some of the report’s recommendations have the potential a lead to a lowering of environmental protections at a time when entire ecosystems are on the brink of collapse. Click here to read what DEA's response to the interim report will focus on.
The summer's bushfires blanketed Australia's east coast with thick smoke, writes Dr Bob Vickers. But even when we don't have bushfires, Australians are still being exposed to harmful air pollution from sources such as coal-fired power stations.
DEA strongly opposes the Narrabri Gas Project and submitted its first submission to object to the Narrabri Gas Project in 2017. This supplementary submission addresses the inadequacies and deficiencies in the Narrabri Gas Project application and why DEA maintains that gas is a health hazard. Click here to read the full supplementary submission
It is the position of DEA that ongoing coal mining and combustion poses an unacceptable health risk due to greenhouse gas emissions. DEA is one of many health and medical organisations across the globe calling for urgent action to mitigate
climate change. Collectively these groups
have highlighted the devastating impact a warming climate will have on human health. The specific effects of rising temperatures on human health are summarised in this submission, leading to our conclusion that approving the Vickery Extension Project is not in
the interests of Australia or of human health on the international scale.
DEA has provided a submission on the Proposed Actions 2020/8708 and 2020/8709 . DEA recommends that both actions be assessed under the EPBC Act as they are likely to have significant impact on World Heritage properties and National Heritage places.
Doctors have described Viva Energy’s proposed gas import and storage facility in North Geelong as a folly, warning that it poses risks to the local environment and to the health of local residents, as well as fuelling more dangerous climate change.
Doctors for the Environment Australia congratulates industry superannuation funds HESTA and First State Super on their recent moves to exit thermal coal.
These are large funds (FSS $130 billion and HESTA $52 billion) whose members are health workers.
Mounting pressure from members and advocacy groups such as DEA over the last few years has been rewarded with these announcements which are part of policy change to put the funds in line with meeting their commitment to the Paris target.
Covid-19 has its challenges, especially in Victoria at the moment. Dr Beau Frigault writes that generally, though, Australia relative to other parts of the world has managed the pandemic well. This proves that when we are in a crisis, we rise to the occasion and do what is right to protect all of us. We need to have a similar response to the critical issue of climate change.
The Australian Government invited brief commentary on their Technology Roadmap to guide investment in energy generation over the next few decades. One key concept in this Roadmap is the notion of technology “neutrality”. However, this concept should be rejected as technologies are not equivalent in their potential to reduce emissions. There are sufficient zero-emitting technologies available for further development without wasting resources on fossil-fuels. The Roadmap also fails as it does not have a “destination”, that is, a well-defined emissions-reduction target. For details of DEA’s submission, see here.
Australia is particularly vulnerable to some of the worst impacts of climate change with extreme heat, drought, drying rivers, coastal erosion and changing patterns of disease-- threatening health, livelihoods and the social fabric, write Drs Graeme McLeay and Ingo Weber. While paying lip service to the urgency underpinning the Paris Agreement to keep average global temperatures to below 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial times, Australia is embarking zealously on a course to promote and profit from the export and use of fossil fuels, most recently with calls for a gas-led "recovery". The argument though that gas is a transition fuel and clean is disingenuous.
The Royal Commission on the 2019-20 summer bushfires released an Issues Paper in May, specifically addressing the health care arrangements of natural disasters. DEA’s submission calls for a national health and climate change strategy to include better public health information, a nationalised approach to air quality monitoring and reporting, more research on the health impacts of smoke events better integration of primary health care providers in emergency responses. Read our submission here.
Like many Australians, this summer's horrific fires had a profound impact on Dr Dimity Williams. Not only did she experience angst about the fires in Victoria burning her ‘happy place’ -the Thurra River in Croajingalong National Park in East Gippsland- her oldest son, who had gone camping with friends in NSW, was among those evacuated on New Year’s Eve. Dr Williams writes that this catastrophic event is the new normal, and what those of us who have been advocating for action on climate change for the past decades have been warning about.
Health experts, including GPs and medical specialists, are today launching a video message warning that a gas-led pandemic economic recovery would be hazardous to health and cost lives. The call by doctors is attached to a petition calling for a renewable recovery instead.
Doctors for the Environment Australia members urge the Morrison Government to seek an alternative to a gas led recovery from the Covid19 pandemic. With Australia's abundance of solar and wind energy capabilities, a renewable energy led recovery will protect both the environment and human health. Head to https://turnoffthegas.good.do/turnoffthegas/
Outlined in the attached frequently asked questions, are the many problems methane poses for the environment and human health and why doctors are calling for an alternative solution to the "gas-led" recovery from the Covid19 pandemic.
The fundamental objective of Doctors for the Environment Australia is to protect and enhance health by protecting the environment. There are other social determinants of health and racial discrimination, dispossession, inequality and injustice are prominent among them. DEA expects that closing the gap in health and life expectancy of the First people of our land must be of the highest priority for government, alongside protecting the environment.