40 million health professionals call for healthy recovery 

In the largest ever mobilisation of the health sector, DEA has joined over 370 health organisations and 40 million health professionals demanding a healthy recovery form Covid-19. This means reducing air pollution, reforming fossil fuel subsidies, scales up renewable energy, ramps up public transportation and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.   #HealthyRecovery

Media release: Open Letter- prominent health leaders and groups warn ‘failing’ nature laws will lead to further public health crises 

Nobel Laureate Professor Peter Doherty and former Australian of the Year Professor Fiona Stanley are among more than 180 health professionals and leading health groups who have signed an open letter, warning the federal government must strengthen Australia’s weak environment laws to protect health. The letter warns that a failure to conserve our environment is in effect dismantling our life support systems, exposing humanity to potentially even more deadly pandemics than COVID-19, as well as catastrophic climate change, which fuelled the horrific Black Summer bushfires. 

Lessons to be learnt in relation to the Australian bushfire season 2019-20

DEA has provided a submission to the Senate inquiry, Lessons to be Learnt in relation to the 2019-20 bushfire season. DEA recommendations include the need for more research into the effects of long term exposure to bushfire smoke and better public health advice on how to best protect ourselves from its health impacts. It must be recognised that the underlying driver of Australia's worsening bushfire seasons is climate change.

New video! Doctors' prescription for healthy solutions: community, investment, renewables (Part 1)

Solutions to the climate emergency involves whole-of-system changes. But the individual actions we take are crucial. Four DEA doctors at the frontline of care speak on the steps they and their communities are taking for a healthier and more resilient future. 

DEA Webinar: Australia’s place in the global loss of biodiversity: inevitability of a degraded future for our children

Doctors for the Environment Australia would like to invite members, friends and interested parties to a webinar on  Australia’s place in the global loss of biodiversity: inevitability of a degraded future for our children 

Submission into the 2019-2020 Independent Review of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act

DEA believes that the flaws in the EPBC Act are too significant to be addressed by amendments alone. A new generation of environmental law is needed to restore past damage and cope with the scale of future challenges. This law must provide the Commonwealth with the powers it needs to fulfil a greater leadership role in the protection of Australia’s environment, as compared with the current situation where much of this task is left to the states and territories

ANU Online Short Course: Climate Essentials

This is members-only content - please log in to view. Alternatively, if you are a Doctor or Medical Student, please join DEA.

Canberra Times: Fossil fuel projects are not the way out

Relying on fossil fuel projects to help with a COVID-19 recovery is like planning to recover from a heart attack by adopting a deep-fried diet, or treating diabetes with mountains of sugar, writes Dr John Van Der Kallen. Yet as we try and restart the economy, we are seeing the expansion of environment and economy-wrecking fossil fuel projects. For healthy communities, a renewables-led recovery is what this doctor - and everyday Australians, economists, energy experts, scientists and the like -ordered.

New fact sheet: Home gas appliances and your health

Although natural gas is often seen as a ‘clean’ fuel, this is a myth. All gas-burning appliances produce pollutants. Our latest fact sheet examines the health impacts of indoor gas use and to how to reduce the risks. It also lists five major recommendations to reduce  the negative impacts of gas on our homes, our planet and our hip pockets.

Campaigns Committee members : Deadline Extended

This is members-only content - please log in to view. Alternatively, if you are a Doctor or Medical Student, please join DEA.

Royal Commission into National Disaster Arrangements (Bushfires Royal Commission) April 2020. 

The health impacts of last summer’s devastating bushfire season are serious, complex and wide-ranging and health is integral to making decisions about emergency and disaster responses. More research is needed to fill the gaps in our knowledge, especially about the long term impacts of prolonged exposure to bushfire smoke. Importantly, the main driver of our longer and more intense bushfire seasons is climate change.

The Canberra Times: Let us also rise to the climate challenge

Dr Trudi Beck says she knows that coronavirus is no small matter, and as  a doctor, she takes it as seriously as anyone can. But, Dr Beck writes, "I also want to urge our leaders to take the climate crisis equally seriously. As a doctor and a mother, I'm deeply concerned about, the increasing climate threat, and the rapidly closing window we have to safeguard our future as a society, and that of our children."

Video launch: Frontline doctors speak out on Covid19 and climate change  

This Doctors for the Environment Australia video, which we have launched today, has a  strong yet clear message: we need to address two emergencies in our midst - Covid19 and climate change . DEA members Drs Kate Ahmad, Trudi Beck, Michelle Hamrosi, Arnagretta Hunter, Kim Loo and  Ingo Weber speak out powerfully and urgently on the challenges we are facing and the actions we need to take to protect our health and survival now and into the future.

DEA doctors innovating and protecting health during the COVID 19 pandemic

DEA doctors across the nation from a wide range of specialities are experiencing fundamental changes and challenges in their work practices and expectations. GPs are screening and consulting patients in their clinic car parks; interns are working in COVID clinics; “front line” emergency department, intensive care and anaesthetic doctors are planning, training and caring for patients under situations that were unimaginable 4-6 weeks ago. 

Renew Economy: Santos must come clean on methane and accept its responsibilities to human health

Putting aside the inadequacies of government in addressing climate change, many Australians are coming to recognise that the fate of the planet resides mainly in numerous corporate board rooms, writes Dr David Shearman. The recent Santos AGM is one battleground for our future. 

Media release:  Doctors alarmed by the jump in air pollution from power stations call for action   

New figures showing worsening sulphur dioxide air pollution from three NSW coal-fired power stations must be met with tighter license conditions on power plants to reduce the significant risks to the health of millions of people in Sydney and across the state, says medical group Doctors for the Environment Australia. 

Prof Melissa Haswell question went to the heart of Santos' 2020 AGM. Their response? 

Public health expert Prof Melissa Haswell asked an important question at Santos' 2020 annual general meeting which was held online due to Covid-19:  How will the oil and gas giant protect our communities, especially our unborn children, infants and children, from their current and proposed gas projects?

Renew Economy: Gas is burning any hope of science-based climate policy for Australia

The argument that LNG is good for Australia and good for the world cannot be substantiated by scientific or medical facts, states Dr David Shearman. Many studies confirm that the emissions profile of gas is little different to that of coal. 

RiotAct: Community support is the way to beat distressing times, says Canberra doctor 

There are clear parallels with society’s response to the summer’s bushfires and the coronavirus outbreak--and as a community, we must work together, says Dr Arnagretta Hunter. 

No new gas for Victoria

A moratorium was placed on onshore conventional exploration and drilling in Victoria in 2014. This is due to expire on June 30, 2020. In the next few months, the Victorian government will decide whether to extend the moratorium or let it lapse. At this time of climate crisis, we need to show our politicians that we do not want ANY new gas developments in our state. 

Seeking submissions from DEA members - Speak up and protect our environment for the sake of human health

The Federal Government is currently undertaking a once-in-a-decade review of Australia’s national environment laws and is asking for public input. This is a critically important opportunity for us to speak up about the need to protect our environment for the sake of human health. 

Open Forum: Blue-banded bliss

Dr Marion Carey writes that with an estimated 40% of insect species now threatened with extinction, we can all do more to notice and appreciate our wonderful native bees and give them a helping hand- and with so little effort also comes great personal reward. 

Independent Australia: Australia needs to commit to target of net-zero emissions by 2050

After two decades of refusal to acknowledge the science of climate change, change, it has taken a national bushfire tragedy for policy-makers to wake-up, writes Dr John Iser

DEA responds to the Federal Opposition's target of zero net carbon emissions by 2050 

The commitment by the ALP to a target of zero net carbon emissions by 2050 is a welcome sign that Australia may eventually join 73 other countries in doing so, but it doesn't go far enough, states DEA's national co-chair Professor Kingsley Faulkner

Submission to NSW Legislative Council Inquiry into the costs for remediation of sites containing coal ash repositories 

The process of coal combustion leads to a concentration of trace elements in the resulting waste ash. While exposure to the traces of these elements in nature does not usually result in toxicity, their concentration in coal ash has the potential for dysfunction of multiple organ systems. 

Submission to the NSW Planning Department on the expansion of the Glendell mine in the Hunter Valley. 

The Hunter Valley already has the worst PM10* air pollution in New South Wales.   DEA considers that the Glendell expansion proposal is not in the national or local community interest and should be rejected on the grounds of local air quality impacts and on global climate grounds, which have severe adverse health impacts at both a local and global scale. 

#NoTimeForGames: A National Children's Health Campaign 

The #NoTimeForGames campaign, an initiative of Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA), highlighted the effects of climate change on children’s health. It called upon our elected leaders to take action, recognising that if we fail to act now on climate change, adaptation may not be possible and many societies will struggle to survive. 

Media release: Doctors warn extending the life of Vales Point coal-fired power station will have a human cost, from Lake Macquarie to Sydney  

Doctors have today slammed the Morrison government’s proposed $11m grant to Vales Point coal-fired power station, as the money to prolong the life of this ageing coal fired-power station is likely to exacerbate harmful pollution reaching the large population centre of Sydney, especially in summer when north easterly winds are common. 

Media release: Doctors’ open letter to the Premier of Tasmania: logging is a health hazard  

Dear Premier Gutwein, Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) is alarmed at the resumption of old growth logging in the North West of Tasmania, as it imperils community health. We urge the State Government to cancel plans to log coupes in the takayna/Tarkine bio-region including Que Road, and for future forestry operations there to be suspended. There is no justification for ongoing logging in the face of the climate crisis and accelerating loss of forests to bushfire and other human activities. 

Open flued gas space heaters discussion paper submission.

Gas is often regarded as a ‘clean’ fuel, but air pollutants released from the combustion of methane indoors can cause or exacerbate illness involving the heart, lungs brain or nervous system. Open flued gas space heaters (OFSGHs) can sometimes provide a direct pathway for these pollutants into a room.  DEA recommends a phase out of OFGSHs, which includes a ban on all new installations (Option 3).

Victoria’s new environmental laws submission

This submission focuses primarily upon aspects of the new EP laws as they relate to air pollution and climate change, as these are closely related to DEA policy and expertise. DEA expertise is medical rather than legal and our submission is made upon this basis

Media release: Doctors slam NSW Government’s proposed planning changes

Doctors are demanding that the NSW Government abandons its bill to change the law so that the emissions from burning fossil fuels outside NSW no longer need to be taken into account when approving new coal and gas projects.

Leading international health groups issue joint statement calling for Siemens to #StopAdani 

Dear Mr Kaeser, As a company committed to health and sustainability, Siemens’ decision to provide rail signalling for the Adani coal mine is deeply disappointing. We, the undersigned, urge you to restore our trust in your company by reconsidering your decision on the Adani contract. The world does not need another coal mine. Coal is a major contributor to climate change, which the health sector has determined to be the biggest global health threat of the 21st century. 

iNews: Australian doctor on 'nerve-wracking' wildfires and climate crisis: ‘You can taste it and I make sure my children stay indoors’

Canberra Cardiologist, Dr Arnagretta Hunter, provides an insight into how the fires are impacting both her personal and professional worlds.

New Hope Coal Mine (NHC) application to use prime agricultural land

While Australia burns as part of the climate crisis, the State of Queensland continues its fervent quest to develop more coal. This is the sixth submission written on New Hope Coal mine by DEA since 2012.   

Letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison: "the leader who failed to lead on Climate Change."

To Scott Morrison,  like everyone else in Australia, and increasingly around the world, I have spent the past couple of months in horrified disbelief at the scale of the bushfire emergency. The loss of life, devastation of ecosystems, decimation of wildlife and destruction of property are genuinely beyond comprehension – we simply have nothing to compare these events to, and consequently it is almost impossible to process. I am deeply saddened and increasingly frightened about the future. And beyond donating to fundraising efforts, I feel helpless in my capacity to meaningfully contribute in the face of this ongoing tragedy. But as a citizen of this country, I can write to you and your Coalition colleagues and share my views.

Newcastle Herald: Michael Schien writes, the real threat to national security is the way our system makes rational planning virtually impossible

The climate emergency has arrived, writes Dr Michael Schien. With the first degree of the predicted four degrees of warming by 2100, this 11,000 kilometre fire front is stretching our capacity to respond,  while weeks of smoke have replaced the clean air that our forests usually provide us for free. Positive change means facing at least two major issues.

Support the bushfire recovery effort

The prolonged drought and subsequent catastrophic bushfires continue to unfold and demand immediate attention. Many DEA members have been directly affected, and have provided medical and other practical advice and assistance. DEA encourages its members to also donate to one of the many reputable charities that are well set up to assist people who have been affected and to those helping animals that are suffering. 

New Daily: Burning anxiety--The new normal isn’t just the fire, it’s the fear

Speaking to The New Daily, psychiatrist Dr Robert Llewellyn-Jones and Honorary Secretary Dr Richard Yin highlight that climate change impacts such as Australia's unprecedented fires not only have direct physical impacts- they also affect our mental health. 

AusDoc: As Australia burns, where is our plan?

As the fires continue to burn across eastern Australia, DEA's Honorary Secretary Dr Richard Yin and DEA member Dr George Crisp, write the full scale of the health impacts and the capacity of health services to adequately respond is emerging--doctors on the frontline who are working in evacuation centres report they are dealing with up to 1000 evacuees, with very little equipment or support. Scientists have long predicted the compounding effects of climate change, yet plans for adaptation and mitigation have been inadequate . It is time we accept the science and the challenge before us and take urgent action on the climate crisis.

Letter to Siemens Australia and New Zealand: Stop Adani

Dear Mr Connolly, I write as the Secretary for Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) in regards to Siemens’ involvement in Adani’s Carmichael coal mine and rail project. 

Libération: Australie "La fumée s'est infiltrée partout, dans les maisons, les bureaux et même à l'hôpital"

French daily newspaper, Libération, interviewed DEA's co-chair Dr Eugenie Kayak about the health impacts of the hazardous smoke pollution in Sydney from the NSW bushfires, which have for weeks ravaged the east coast of Australia. Exposure to smoke pollution is known to increase the incidence of lung and heart diseases. Dr Kayak said that while official health impact figures will not be known until the end of the bushfire season, it's expected that the figures will be alarming. 

RACGP declares climate change a public health emergency

DEA congratulates the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) in declaring climate change a health emergency. The RACGP has joined other major medical colleges and organisations in raising the alarm over the current and growing impact of climate change.  

ABC's World Today: Heatwave to hit record temperatures across Australia

As Australians this week brace for a nationwide heatwave which could see temperatures approach 50 degrees in some areas, Dr Arnagretta Hunter says that while people have lived with such high temperatures, worsening climate change could test our biological limits over the coming years. 

Media release: Major health groups declare bushfire smoke a public health emergency

Doctors for the Environment Australia is today joining a coalition of Australia’s major health and medical groups in declaring hazardous air pollution from bushfire smoke in  Sydney and other areas in NSW a public health emergency. The groups are also linking the fires to climate change.    

SMH: 'Horrified' doctors call for direct action on bushfire health threat

Doctors for the Environment Australia is horrified by the reaction of the Morrison government to the unprecedented public health threat from the hazardous air pollution in Sydney and surrounds which has been triggered by the bushfires, reports the SMH. DEA is calling for the Morrison government to transition Australia from its reliance on fossil fuels- a main driver of the climate emergency that is increasing and intensifying these fires.

Doctors: Bushfires in NSW pose a major public health threat and the Government needs to act   

Doctors for the Environment Australia calls for a federally coordinated national meeting to direct action in response to the unprecedented public health threat from months of bushfire smoke in eastern Australia. DEA fears exposure will potentially affect the health and wellbeing of up to ten million people in both the short and longer term. 

Medical Republic: Australia’s doctors raise their voices on climate change

With the early start to our bushfire season, widespread fires burning across the country with tragic loss of life and property, and a number of areas breaking November heat records, three medical colleges, the RACP,  ACEM and ACRRM representing tens of thousands of doctors recently declared climate change a health emergency, writes DEA's Hon Secretary Dr Richard Yin. They join the AMA and DEA which this year also declared a climate health emergency. The clear message to our leaders is that the time to act on the climate crisis is now.

Response to Alexander Downer: how much are we prepared to pay for our children’s future?

Alexander Downer, a former leader of the Liberal Party , Minister for Foreign Affairs and High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, wrote in the Australian Financial Review  last Monday (18 Nov)  that climate leadership would be expensive “virtue signalling”, that climate change has become a highly “emotional issue”, and rational discussion has been abandoned. He describes climate change as the Rubik’s cube of politics and asks us to join with him in “connecting the squares” to understand what is going on. Dr Graeme McLeay writes: Let us look then, rationally of course, at some of the claims he makes.

Shadow Minister for Health: climate change must be a National Health Priority Area

Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) welcomes the statements made by Shadow Minister for Health Chris Bowen that Australia needs to develop policies and structures to prepare for the health impacts of climate change. As Mr Bowen states in a Guardian article, "...despite the fact we  [Australia] are more exposed than most, and our medical community is increasingly vocal on the issue, from Doctors for the Environment, to the Australian Medical Association, which recently declared climate change to be a health emergency”, we have no national strategy. 

MJA-Lancet report prompts doctors to call for urgent action on climate change   

Doctors demand that the federal government takes immediate action to protect Australians from the unprecedented risks to their health from climate change, in response to a major new report published today. 

Biodiversity Policy

Natural ecosystems support our health by filtering our air, providing fresh water and food, regulating our climate and protecting against the spread of disease and pests. They also foster our psychological and spiritual wellbeing and serve as places of recreation and sources of nature-based jobs in tourism and other vocations. 

Biodiversity Position Statement

Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) is focussed on the complex interaction between human health and our natural environment and is therefore interested in environmental restoration and the protection of biodiversity to promote human health and social stability. A global environment that supports biodiversity is better able to support human health. This is a topic of utmost urgency, given the alarming decline in biodiversity in recent years.

Media release: Doctors call on regulator to reject banned toxic chemical in the Great Australian Bight

Doctors for the Environment  Australia  calls on the national offshore oil and gas regulator to reject Equinor's plan to use a banned toxic chemical dispersant for an oil spill  in the Great Australian Bight, as it would place response workers and local communities at risk of serious illness.  

Medical Forum bumper issue on doctors as climate change champions

From letters to the editor to feature articles about doctors stepping out to join the School Strike for Climate,  this month's edition of Medical Forum shows DEA's WA members are a force to be reckoned with in the fight against climate change. 

Media release: Doctors alarmed by the destruction of takayna/ Tarkine call for a stop to logging 

Tasmanian doctors have today called for an urgent halt to destructive logging of the Sumac forests of the takayna/Tarkine, as conservationists step up protests against proposed logging in the area.  Medical group Doctors for the Environment Australia says that damage to the takayna/Tarkine is not only an environmental issue but one which affects the health and wellbeing of all Tasmanians. 

Independent Australia: Australia’s energy policies are doctors’ business

It is extraordinary that Energy Minister Angus Taylor continues to cling to a fossil fuel past at a time when Australia’s emissions are still rising and the urgency required for global action on climate change mounts, writes Dr Graeme McLeay. What we really need is the Energy Minister and his government to see the tremendous opportunities in sun, wind and wave and to steer our country towards a clean energy future that doesn’t cost our health, our planet or our pockets. 

Letter to the Editor: Media must let the truth prevail

Is there no end to the contention by climate change sceptics, who report in The Australian, that action is useless and that adaptation will see us through? asks Dr John Iser in his Letter to the Editor which as far as we know has not been published. As he states, the media’s role is to shed light on truth, not to obfuscate it; to challenge power, not be beholden to it.

The Armidale Express: Armidale GP Dr Sujata Allan explains why climate change is the century's greatest health challenge

Dr Sujata Allan says that in her practice, she has already seen the toll a warming planet has taken on her patients.  She states there is widespread concern about global heating among the medical profession, medical colleges, the AMA and other groups, and urges a co-ordinated national strategy to prepare our towns, communities, and health practices for climate change impacts.

Origin Energy AGM: Doctors warn that fracking is a public health hazard   

Medical group Doctors for the Environment Australia will attend Origin Energy’s AGM on Wednesday to raise the alarm about the risks of NT fracking on public health. Spokesperson for DEA, Dr Helen Redmond, says the evidence against fracking is clear and there should be no further development of onshore gas in Australia.   

DEA marks World Food Day

Public Health Nutritionist, Dr Rosemary Stanton OAM, says there should be enough food for everyone on World Food Day.  Yet hunger is a real problem throughout many parts of the world, with over 820 million people going hungry every day, impairing the growth and development of millions of children. We need to pause and consider how we use the earth's finite resources to produce food for all. 

Newcastle Herald: Emotional toll of mining brought to surface

The effects of coal mining are not only physical, they're also emotional, writes Dr Bob Vickers. In the Hunter Valley, thermal coal mining is creating an adversarial culture in coal communities as both those against and for continued mining advocate for a future that they believe will best look after themselves and their families. 

The Canberra Times: Populate and perish; the fleeting hope of a population policy

The Launch of the new Centre for Population raised a flicker of hope of a remit to develop a population policy for Australia - but the hope was fleeting, writes Dr David Shearman. The proposal makes no mention of the constraints of climate change, water scarcity or the concept of sustainability, which are crucial to the long term maintenance of our present population and indeed the projected increase of between 37 and 49 million people by 2066. 

Food For Healthy People, Healthy Planet: Fact Sheet

Our new fact sheet highlights that the foundation of good health is a healthy diet, and  that climate change, biodiversity loss, water pollution and soil loss are major and imminent threats to human and planetary health. Changing the type of foods that we eat, and the way that foods are produced, distributed, and marketed, is one of the most effective actions we can take to improve the health of individuals, and stave off environmental disaster. 

Media release: Proposed Midlands coal mine is a health risk, warn Tasmania’s doctors    

Doctors for the Environment Australia has slammed a proposed coal mine in Tasmania's Midlands on health grounds, warning it could contaminate the clean soil, air and water of surrounding areas and lead to more climate change whose harmful impacts the island state is already seeing. 

Independent Australia: Morrison's condescending response to kids and climate

Climate change is difficult to ignore when medical authorities declare a climate health emergency, defence experts are concerned, insurance and business are sounding the alarm bells and children and their supporters are taking to the streets in historic numbers to call for urgent action, writes Dr Graeme McLeay. Yet, when Prime Minister Scott Morrison addressed the UN last week, he said everyone had it wrong about Australia. The question is: when will our PM "get" the science and the need to act?

Croakey: On an historic day for the #SchoolStrike, climate justice must be central

Dr Ingo Weber, the lead organiser of DEA's campaign No Time For Games, explains why doctors joined the global climate strike on 20 September which saw more than 300,000 Australians and millions of people around the world take to the streets in support of young people and their call for action on climate. 

Global Climate Strike: Doctors stand 4 future

Doctors will today take to the streets in cities and towns across Australia in support of the anticipated thousands of Australian school students who will miss classes to call for urgent policies to contain climate change, which threatens their future existence if left unchecked. Medical group Doctors for the Environment Australia says climate change is the biggest risk to public health in human history and young people, who are especially vulnerable given their developing bodies and longer life years, have good reason to speak out. 

No Time For Games concludes in Canberra- with a motion in Parliament!

DEA's No Time For Games campaign, which has placed children's health in a changing climate on the national agenda, concluded today at Parliament House in Canberra.  A DEA contingency delivered thousands of pledges as well as endorsements from major medical colleges to the Health Minister Greg Hunt, even though he was unavailable to meet us. The campaign culminated in a parliamentary motion in the House by  Zali Steggall OAM MP and was seconded by Helen Haines MP. The motion recognised that human-induced climate change is one of the biggest and most urgent health threats to children, and calls on the government to decarbonise by 2050 to reduce the intensity and occurrence of extreme weather events. Read the full motion in the Hansard. 

Health professionals call for Greg Hunt to protect children’s health in a changing climate, as Zali Steggall moves a motion in the House

Doctors will today gather at Parliament House, Canberra, to deliver Greg Hunt thousands of pledges from major medical colleges and health professionals demanding urgent action on climate change for the sake of our children. Inside Parliament, Zali Steggall OAM MP will move a motion that supports No Time For Games, a national children's campaign by DEA. The motion, seconded by Helen Haines MP, recognises that human-induced climate change is one of the biggest and most urgent health threats to children, and urges the government to decarbonise by 2050 to reduce the intensity and occurrence of extreme weather events. 

Media Alert:  DEA to deliver pledges to protect children from climate change to Health Minister Greg Hunt, Canberra 

On Monday 16 September, DEA will deliver thousands of pledges calling for immediate bipartisan action on climate change which impacts on children most to the Minister for Health Greg Hunt MP, despite his unavailability to meet them . Speakers at the event outside Parliament House will include Senior Australian of the Year 2019 and Paediatrician Dr Sue Packer OA, Mark Butler MP, Zali Steggall MP and Andrew Wilkie MP. The pledges have been endorsed by The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP), the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM), the Australasian College of Sport and Exercise Physicians (ACSEP) the Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA), and more than 2000 health professionals, including Professor Fiona Stanley AC. 

Kidneys and extreme heat: a climate consequence

The medical community is now realising that the health effects of climate change are more far reaching than we ever thought- climate change is not just an unprecedented public health threat, but also a threat to multiple organs in our bodies, writes DEA's Vic Chair Katherine Barraclough who is also a nephrologist.

Dendrobium Mine Expansion Proposal Submission

DEA is concerned about the ongoing mining activities occurring within the Greater Sydney Water Catchment, and the effects of this mining on the water security of over 5 million people. There is increasing evidence of damage to groundwater systems that supply Sydney's drinking water from mining operations, and this expansion proposal comes at a time when dam levels are below 50% capacity and water restrictions are in place. The Dendrobium Mine Expansion will only further these damaging impacts, placing the water supply in even more precarious territory.

DEA welcomes AMA’s emergency health declaration on climate change as a major step forward  

Doctors for the Environment Australia has today applauded the AMA’s declaration that climate change is a health emergency, describing it as a major milestone that firmly acknowledges the toll that rising global temperatures is having on health as well as the urgency in addressing the climate crisis. In its statement, the AMA says it has joined other health organisations around the world – including the American Medical Association, the British Medical Association, and Doctors for the Environment Australia-in making the declaration.

Sydney Morning Herald: The right side of history? Labor's noble climate talk lost in coal smoke

Labor is all over the shop on climate change, writes Dr David Shearman. Labor's national president, Wayne Swan, is preaching that the party must stay on "the right side of history" and stick to ambitious carbon targets. This is even as Senator Penny Wong stated in response to pleas from Pacific Island nations that an ALP federal government would not ban new coal mines, and as Labor's Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk expressed pride in coal exports.  Talking down the impact of Australia's coal in effect puts Labor in support of a government policy that invites climate catastrophe. 

Opinion: The right side of history? Labor's noble climate talk lost in coal smoke

Labor is all over the shop on climate change. This week its national president, Wayne Swan, is preaching that the party must stay on "the right side of history" and stick to ambitious carbon targets. He speaks out even as Labor's Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, expresses pride in coal exports. 

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Assessment Guidance

WA EPA is working in an environment of federal policy failures in acknowledging, committing to and effectively reining in emissions, and no appetite for effective taxation or emissions trading policies. The EPA carries a significant responsibility for preventing a substantial magnitude of potential GHG emissions from resources in WA and protecting its highly vulnerable population and environment to climate impacts.

Australia’s faunal extinction crisis

This Senate Committee on faunal extinction has a very important role because presently it is the only parliamentary voice in a position to make a statement on the interlocking and rapidly progressing climate change and biodiversity emergencies which are the basis for faunal extinctions. The Senate Committee is able to make recommendations for further national action and might consider means by which these national security issues can be developed further. Doctors don’t use the word, emergency lightly; we indicate that we must urgently address this climate and biodiversity emergency.

Climate Health WA Inquiry

The impacts of climate change on the health of our community are an urgent issue that needs addressing by government with both attention and resources. The public health community has rapidly increased its engagement on climate change and health in recent years, providing better understanding of the links between climate change and health and raising awareness of the significant health threats. Given the primary importance of the health and well-being of Western Australians, we anticipate the proceedings and findings of the inquiry to also inform these other processes.

Muswellbrook Chronicle: Singleton Dr Bob Vickers, and member of Doctors for the Environment Australia, weighs in on recent Dartbrook coal mine decision 

THE NSW Independent Planning Commission (IPC) recently decided on the Dartbrook underground coal mine, writes Dr Bob Vickers.  In its decision, they approved the mine to continue operations until 2022, but did not support a five-year extension recommended by the NSW Department of Planning. In the words of the IPC, this project "would not be in accordance with the principles of ecologically sustainable development or inter-generational equity; and, as such, is not in the public interest".

Media release: Health experts slam decision allowing Origin to frack NT

Doctors are alarmed that the Northern Territory Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources Eva Lawler has given approval to gas giant Origin Energy to commence fracking in the NT to mine shale gas. The decision flies in the face of clear evidence that gas mining brings unacceptable health risks. 

Canberra Times: Faunal extinction is a huge part of the climate emergency

A normal week, another loss of koala habitat for new housing estates, of forest to provide jobs in the logging industry, of land clearance for gas development and agriculture.  As Dr David Shearman writes, the litany of destruction is relentless. Australia is participating in a worldwide biodiversity crisis, in which thousands of species are threatened or have become extinct. The climate emergency is the main cause, but there are many others which emanate from economic growth and its consumption of natural resources. 

Isaac Downs Project Submission

The prime consideration of the project must be whether it complies with the need for Queensland and Australian sustainability in view of the climate change and biodiversity emergencies. 

(Unpublished) Letter to the Editor - The Australian

"It is about time that Chris Kenny was pilloried for distorting the truth on renewable energy (The Australian August 12)," Dr John Iser wrote in a Letter to the Editor submitted to the Australian which we understand was not published.

The Guardian: Australian power stations among world's worst for toxic air pollution

Dr Ben Ewald told the Guardian that there were places in Australia that had a serious SO2 (sulphur dioxide) problem and limits were set well above what was needed to protect human health. The comments followed a Greenpeace report using satellite data to analyse the world’s worst sources of sulphur dioxide pollution, one of the main pollutants contributing to deaths from air pollution worldwide.

Renew Economy: The other road toll we can no longer ignore

We are confronted daily in the media with the deadly results of crashes on our roads and the tragedy that befalls those involved, writes Dr Graeme McLeay. Seat belts, improved vehicle design, drink driving legislation and other measures have seen the number of road deaths decline from a high in 1970 of almost 3,800 to 1,137 in 2018. This figure is still too high and much effort is made to reduce it. There is, however, another menace on our roads which is largely ignored - exposure to traffic pollution.

ABC Life Matters: How clean is the air you breathe?

We all have a right to breathe clean air. However, if you live, work and play in an area with a lot of traffic or near coal-fired power stations the air can get pretty foul.   Ambient air pollution contributes to over 3000 premature deaths each year in Australia, and thousands more suffer a range of diseases including asthma - children are especially vulnerable. Associate Professor Vicki Kotsirilos AM and President of the Maribyrnong Truck Action Group Martin Wurt speak on Life Matters about how airborne pollutants are making us sick. They call on the environment ministers who are currently reviewing our outdated air quality laws to adopt international best practice. 

Brisbane Times: How will hospitals cope with climate change's impact on our health?

Blue skies, rolling surf, blazing sun- these are some of the images people think of when they think of Australia, writes Dr Marianne Cannon. But it is the latter, the endless days of hot sunshine that are harming us, both young and old, in increasing numbers.  Last summer was the hottest on record, and projections are that heatwaves will be getting more frequent and intense. As heatwaves increase the pressure on accident and emergency units, many emergency physicians are seriously worried about how hospitals are going to cope. But there are solutions open to us, and they are achievable.

Media Release: Health experts call for stronger national air pollution standards to save lives

Doctors are calling for stronger national air pollution standards to limit dangerous pollutants including nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and ozone in ambient air. Air pollution currently causes over 3000 premature and preventable deaths per year in Australia, as well as contributing to asthma, heart disease, lung disease and cancer. Medical group Doctors for the Environment Australia is urging environment ministers to tighten air pollution standards to protect health, and to bring standards in line with international best practice. 

Expert Position Statement on health-based standards for Australian regulated thresholds of nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and ozone in ambient air 

Ambient air pollution contributes to over 3000 premature deaths each year in Australia. Even at low concentrations, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and ozone (O3) are impacting public health. The joint statement from Australia's key health groups addresses the pending long-awaited revision of national standards for these harmful air pollutants whose standards are currently set well-above international best practice levels. Read the full statement HERE.

Letter to the Hon Sussan Ley MP

Dr Dimity Williams, DEA's Biodiversity Convenor, recently wrote to the Minister for Environment the Hon Sussan Ley MP to applaud the addition of more plants and animals to Australia’s national list of threatened species and ecological communities. However, the letter also expressed concern that Australia was among the world’s worst performers in biodiversity protection and urged strong action to protect the health of nature. Read the letter in full HERE.

Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System

An expanding body of research literature describes the links between climate change and mental health. Extreme weather events have serious, long-term and complex impacts on mental health, and extreme weather events are more frequent, intense, and complex under a changing climate. Climate change also accentuates the inequities within our society, and vulnerable groups are disproportionately affected by mental health impacts.

Ozy: Are you climate homesick? He's got a word for that

"You’re at home with your family on the sofa. Despite being surrounded by loved ones, melancholy is rising within you. Why? Outside the weather is no longer how it used to be. The seasons hardly resemble themselves. You turn on the television and it’s the usual: The Great Barrier Reef is in a state of crisis; polar ice caps are melting. Home in both the immediate sense and the whole planet is changing. How do you feel? Isolated? Depressed? Longing for a different time?” There’s a word for this: solastalgia.  GP, George Crisp, says he's seeing it in his practice.

Climate emergency in Wagga Wagga and the glimmer of hope at the grassroots  

At a recent Climate Change Institute event ANU academic Professor Neil Gunningham commented that no government in the world has been genuinely honest with its population about the full challenge of climate change and its likely consequences, writes Dr Arnagretta Hunter. In Australia this is true to an almost extreme level, with politicians actively campaigning to support the coal industry, and an extraordinary deliberate defunding of climate change research for both adaptation and mitigation. 

Independent Australia: Adani arrest draws attention to Australia's global harm 

The arrest of French journalist  Hugo Clément has served the international community interest to recognise the harm being caused to them by Australian policy, says Dr David Shearman. This harm is well recognised by our island neighbours but they are inconsequential to the Australian Government. More important are the views of countries which accept their share of the climate change burden and the tourists from Europe and other major countries who may well view Mr Hugo’s documentaries when considering holidays in Queensland. 

The Project: The Big Stink...Why Australia Is Lagging Behind The Rest Of The World In Reducing Car Emissions

Prime time current affairs program, The Project, on Network Ten today featured a segment on air pollution. The program highlighted the harms from the emissions of traffic vehicles ahead of a revision of Australia's air quality standards which are well over due. Dr Ben Ewald emphasised dirty air is especially harmful to children and that many of our young people would not have asthma if one of the worst air pollutants, nitrogen dioxide, was capped at 9 parts per billion. 

Project changes to the New Acland Coal Mine Stage 3 Project submission

This is yet another application from the infamous Acland New Hope mine for expansion even before its previous application for a new water license has been decided. Over many years the local community and land holders has suffered from noise, air pollution, and water usage which has affected its health with inadequate action from the state government or company.

Doctors for the Environment Australia declares climate change a health emergency   

Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) declared climate change a health emergency on 3 May 2019. 

The Guardian: Deputy PM Michael McCormack accused of disputing evidence of global heating

Australia’s deputy prime minister Michael McCormack told DEA member and GP, Dr Trudi Beck, who is a constituent in Wagga Wagga, NSW, that  he disputed evidence of global warming because historical weather measurements might not be accurate. Dr Beck also reported that Mr McCormack said to her at a scheduled meeting in his electorate office that she should abandon her attendance at weekly picnic protests outside his office and “do something useful like volunteer for Meals on Wheels instead”.

Open Forum: Future proofing our health system one young doctor at a time

In about eighteen months’ time, I’ll finish my medical degree and will begin my first day of work as a doctor. Many of the things that make me nervous about that prospect have been haunting medical students for decades: what if I fall asleep in the tea room on a night shift and miss an urgent page? What if I accidentally read a patient’s x-ray backwards? What if my boss yells at me the first time I have to wake her up at 3am to ask about a patient? But there’s a whole set of anxieties about my future career that I suspect most of my predecessors never even contemplated.  

Winchester South Project Draft Terms of Reference for an Environmental Impact Statement submission

In Australia, Queensland will be damaged most from climate change progression and it is clearly illogical for Queensland to promote its own demise. We recommend that climate change impacts from the development of this mine be the prime consideration in its assessment. Secondary considerations will be water, need for metallurgical coal, biodiversity of the entire region and possible economic benefit. 

ABC: Wheatstone gas emissions 'excessive', say residents in north-west WA town of Onslow

DEA and environmental groups have called for greater transparency about the potential health impacts on local communities from Australia's largest onshore liquified natural gas (LNG) plant, Chevron's Wheatstone project. Dr George Crisp said he is concerned about the proximity of the plant to the tiny town of Onslow in the Pilbara. Emissions could contain a toxic mixture of hydrocarbons, gases, oxides of nitrogen, particulate matter and carbon monoxide, which are all harmful to human health, even at very low concentrations. 

Independent Australia: UK and EU carbon neutrality will challenge Australian climate policy

Recently, a ten-year-old block of 131 flats in Sydney, evacuated some weeks ago because of structural cracks, became the subject of an engineer’s report which said it was moving in a ‘downward motion’. The UK is well aware of such failures of regulation and government with the Grenfell Tower fire cladding. They epitomise the increasingly inept governance in both nations. Nevertheless, writes Dr David Shearman, despite the three years of Brexit chaos in the UK, matched by three years of climate policy chaos in Australia which remains the hallmark of the re-elected Government, the similarity ends there. 

NBN News: Environment group mounts court case against EPA

Dr Ben Ewald spoke to NBN News about the harms to large numbers of people in Newcastle and beyond who are exposed to toxic pollution from Vales Point, Eraring and Mt Piper coal-fired power stations. The interview comes after the Nature Conservation Council announced it was mounting a court case against the NSW EPA. The conservation group is arguing the renewal of pollution licences for these three power stations, which are operating with out-of-date technology and below international pollution standards, is putting people's health at risk. 

Proposed variation to the ambient air quality measure standards for ozone, NO2 and SO2 submission

Australia’s air pollution standards, known as National Environment Protection Measures (NEPM), were set in 1998 and are long overdue for revision. These standards are intended to protect public health, but they have not kept up with new research on the health impacts of air pollution. Health effects occur at lower concentrations than previously thought. Many foreign jurisdictions review their air standards every five or ten years and have progressively lowered permissible levels over time. The particle standards were updated in 2015, and the current review is for sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and ozone. These three pollutants are quick acting respiratory irritants, but NO2 and possibly ozone also have long term effects. 

Modernisation of Victorian Regional Forestry Agreements submission

DEA has made a submission on the Victorian Government’s review of its Regional Forestry Agreements (RFA). RFA’s are agreements between State and Federal governments which enable logging to occur without the oversight of national environmental protections. They were written some 20 years ago and the 5 agreements which cover Victoria are in the process of expiring.

Review of Interim Emissions Reduction Targets for Victoria (2021-2030)

The Victorian Government appointed an Independent Expert Panel to advise on 5-yearly sector pledges on emission reduction targets (ERTs) up to 2030, under provisions of the Climate Change Act 2017. DEA believes that the Panel’s advice of 32-39% by 2025 and 40-60% by 2030 is sound but only if the upper level of each target is the ultimate aim. It is only these upper limits which would enable Victoria to achieve its legislated target of net-zero emissions by 2050 without placing an unfair burden on either the current or future generations. 

Independent Australia: Obligations to the world’s children in the climate emergency  

For 30 or more years, science has modelled the consequences of steadily rising greenhouse gas emissions and their expected trajectories of warming have been correct — as a result, current predictions have a high degree of confidence.  This article by Dr David Shearman argues practical reforms are needed if we are to fulfil our obligations under the Paris Agreement to address the climate crisis.

Winchester South Project submission

Whitehaven Coal’s proposed open-cut metallurgical coal mine,  the Winchester South Coal Project  in the Bowen Basin, Queensland, has been referred to the Federal Government in three separate applications for the mine site and access road, the water supply pipeline and the electricity transmission line. It is essential that the government now ensures a full Environmental Impact Assessment for every new development project which releases greenhouse gas emissions, using independent consensus science. This is critical, as climate disruption is a clear threat to our health and to the economic system which underpins all our human endeavours, and indeed to our civilisation. Read DEA's submission HERE.

Independent Australia: The cost of the Adani mine on the planet's health and our own

The re-election of the Coalition Government was followed by claims of a mandate for fast tracking approvals of the controversial Adani mine, writes Dr David King.  Only weeks after the Federal Election, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the granting of the two final State Government approvals — groundwater management and the black-throated finch protection plan. The reality of voting intentions is more complex than a single issue and often swayed by playing to genuine concerns or fears. 

The Mercury Talking Point: What those deaths have taught me

Declaring a climate emergency is about reassurance, not panic, writes Dr Kris Barnden. In medicine, we rightly screen for threats to patients' lives, and once these are suspected we initiate a rapid, comprehensive, team-based, evidence-based response. Declaring a climate emergency is about taking effective action to address the mounting threats to the health and wellbeing of billions of people, our way of life and economy. It's also about making a strong statement of political will which nearly 600 jurisdictions around the world have taken. 

Letter to Qld Premier: Apply a health lens when making your decision on Adani

DEA has today written to Queensland  Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk urging her to not proceed with Adani's Carmichael mine project. It is inconceivable to us as an organisation of doctors and medical students that this project should ever see the light of day given it will have significant impacts on public health and wellbeing. Read the letter in full HERE.

Origin Kyalla drilling and hydraulic fracturing 2019

The NT gas development which will result in GHG emissions many times greater than those of the Adani mine will commence in the next few months. DEA has made this submission to the Environmental Management Plan on the Kyalla drilling proposal. The "achievements" of these developments which are strongly supported by the NT governments and by the Federal Coalition and Labor will be to make international emissions difficult to contain and a 2°C rise will be likely; Australia with NT and WA development will be the world’s largest gas exporter.

Independent Australia: Coalition's fuel policy is poisoning the air we breathe

With mounting evidence of the disastrous health effects of poor air quality, Australians deserve better than the Coalition's failed fuel policy, writes Dr Graeme McLeay.  News of a Spanish study, which has found that boys who are exposed to pollution in the womb and childhood, may have poorer cognitive and memory skills adds to the growing list of harms associated with air pollution, especially for vulnerable people, such as children. 

Armidale Express: Biggest public health threat is climate change

The recent federal election gave all Australians of voting age an opportunity to have a say on issues that are most important to them. Dr Sujata Allan, who wrote this powerful article ahead of the election, said that as a doctor who has seen first hand the detrimental ways in which climate change harms our health, her focus would be action on climate change - the biggest public health threat of our times. 

Federal election wrap

Along with many of you, no doubt, DEA has spent the last several days reflecting on the return of a Coalition Government that has not distinguished itself as being sufficiently aware or concerned about the enormous environmental, health and economic consequences of worsening global warming and environmental degradation. The stakes, though, have perhaps never been higher for swift and effective action nationally and globally to protect climates, environments and populations. 

We must make this a climate change election for the sake of our children

Climate change is the greatest threat that humanity has ever had to face, and it is children who will pay the biggest price with their health. The effects on our health and wellbeing are unequivocal and key health organisations around the world, including the World Health Organization, have declared global warming a public health emergency.

Oil drilling in Australian Bight a disaster for climate, biodiversity

In a submission to NOPSEMA, Doctors for the Environment Australia have concluded on health grounds that the proposal should not be approved. The risk from drilling, though small, cannot be avoided, and the effect on the sustainability of the Bight from a major spill far outweighs any transitory economic benefits. Furthermore, impacts on climate change from expanded oil production are unacceptable.

Rapper shouts out: It’s time to vote and turn the climate crisis around

Award-winning rapper and DEA member Dr Nat Harris has released a new video the Call Out, which you can view here. It's spare and powerful lyrics capture nature’s rapid decline and the need for urgent action to turn the climate crisis around. The video launch comes ahead of Saturday’s federal election, which has attracted a record number of young Australians to enrol. 

Inequality and climate change: the perfect storm threatening the health of Australia's poorest

Health professionals are seeing the impact of a perfect storm threatening the health of some of Australia’s most disadvantaged communities. Climate change is exacerbating the social and economic inequalities that already contribute to profound health inequities.

Wollar Solar Farm submission

It is important for the development of the vital renewable energy industry that appropriate developments proceed in order to build the skill base and employment opportunities for people working in the renewable energy industry in order to improve and accelerate the rollout of these projects over the coming decade.

Open Letter to PM Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten: No time for games on children's health

This federal election is critical to our future, and more so for our children. Today DEA published an Open Letter to the leaders of our major parties  in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age with an urgent call to stop playing games with our children's health and take strong action on climate change. Major medical and health organisations as well as more than 2000 health practitioners are endorsing our campaign. DEA members will today deliver their signatures to Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten. 

Doctors call for action on climate change ahead of election

In an article in NewsGP, Dr Tim Senior, a GP with a special interest in environmental issues believes the election provides a key opportunity for practitioners to advocate on climate change. DEA's No Time for Games pledge asks for strong action on climate change from both sides of politics. ‘The damage done today is the environment our children have no choice but to grow up in.' 

Food Security in a Changing Climate

Food Security in a Changing Climate: This video is a reminder of the threat posed to our climate, our water, our oceans and our agriculture by oil and gas exploration and production. In the video Anne Daw, agricultural advocate and member of the Round Table on Oil and Gas SA, Anne Poelina, Nyikina Traditional Custodian and Master of Tropical Medicine Notre Dame University, DEA's Graeme McLeay, and Peter Owen, Wilderness Society SA Director point to the impacts of fossil fuels on food security in our region.

Doctors, let's make this the 'Climate Change Election'

"Everywhere I go, I see headlines saying that the 2019 federal election is the 'Climate Change Election'.  Ordinary citizens, from school children to retirees, who see the stark reality of a climate-altered future, are taking to the streets crying out for action and leadership",  says Dr Lucy Watt, in a new article in AusDoc.

"As a doctor who works in emergency medicine, I support this rallying cry."

New Acland coal mine expansion

DEA has provided a submission to the Queensland government opposing a water licence for the Acland mine extension. This continues the saga of pollution and harm to local inhabitants over the past decade. Over that time, DEA has made two submissions and attended the Land Court case as expert witness . Yet the company and the Queensland government are still intent on approval. This story provides every reason why New Environmental Laws are needed in Australia. Read the submission here.

Doctors call for action on climate change

With the election just 2 weeks away, show that as a doctor, you support strong climate action, by downloading this poster and having it in your waiting room or office.

Leigh Creek Energy Underground Coal Gasification submission

The state of SA has decided that it will try and perform better than Queensland in establishing an underground coal gasification (UCG) enterprise. They need to be reminded that the process has ended in disaster for the environment and workers in about half of all UCG developments nationally and internationally. There has never been a health impact assessment for any UCG development. 

Our submission to stop drilling for oil in the Great Australian Bight

DEA has joined the Wilderness Society campaign to stop drilling for oil in the pristine waters of our Great Australian Bight. We have made a submission on the Stromlo-1 Exploration Drilling Programme to NOPSEMA with the recommendation that the proposal should not be approved. The risk from drilling, though small, cannot be avoided, and the outcome on the sustainability of the Bight from a major spill far outweigh any transitory economic benefits. Furthermore, impacts on climate change from expanded oil production are unacceptable.

Prescription for a healthy Australia

Australia is fortunate to have a diverse natural environment and a vibrant healthy community with good access to healthcare. However, air pollution, drought, extreme weather and bushfires threaten our health and livelihood.  At the 2019 Federal election we call for bold measures to protect and promote health.

Download the 2-page  version here "DEA Prescription 2-page flyer.pdf"

Download the 3-page version here "DEA Prescription 3-pages including references.pdf"


Planetary health and the philanthrocapitalist paradox

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust are to be applauded for being the leading sources of funding for global health research. But there are two sticking points, writes DEA's Prof. Colin Butler. The first is the Wellcome Trust's continuing investment in fossil fuels and the second is the failure to address planetary health - climate change remains the biggest threat to global health.

Doctors worried about Chevron's venting of toxic chemicals at Gorgon

As a result of the failure of its carbon capture and storage project, the Gorgon plant has been venting toxic chemicals including BTEX chemicals and mercury directly into the atmosphere. Dr George Crisp of Doctors for the Environment expressed serious concerns by the lack of environmental monitoring and regulation at Chevron’s Gorgon LNG facility saying, “It is not acceptable to leave it to Chevron to decide whether people were at risk. It’s the government’s responsibility to protect the health of West Australians, not Chevron."  DEA's oil and gas policy can be found here.

Australian doctors among global coalition calling for urgent action on environmental change

Doctors for the Environment Australia is among a wide-ranging international coalition of medical and healthcare organisations  that have signed A Call for Clinicians to Act on Planetary Health, which is published today in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet. The call warns of the severe impacts of accelerating global environmental change on our health and the dire need to address the causes. It also seeks to galvanise doctors, nurses and other clinicians to work with their patients on lifestyle modifications that would benefit both planetary health and individual health. 

Australia's healthcare system: can it cope with climate change?

In an article in MJA's Insight, Kingsley Faulkner says the really worrying aspect of the climate events over the past summer was that this was just the beginning. “These changes are going to get worse,” he said.  “We need Federal leadership — it’s been appallingly lacking to-date. We need good state leadership to set in place emergency preparedness plans,” he said. “When heatwaves or major floods happen, they can overwhelm local emergency departments, as happened in Queensland recently with the devastating cyclones and floods.”

An open letter to political parties and candidates

DEA is a signatory to an Open Letter from leading Australian organisations calling for all candidates in the upcoming federal election to address with speed and urgency the detrimental effects of climate change on public health. Climate change poses an unprecedented threat to the health of people in Australia and across the world. The full text of the letter can be read here.

Letter of support for the Bob Brown Foundation's Stop Adani convoy

Indian billionaire Gautam Adani's  proposed coal mine if it's allowed to proceed will add tonnes of C02 into the atmosphere and accelerate climate change. DEA has written a letter of support to the Stop Adani Convoy of concerned Australians which has been organised by the Bob Brown Foundation. 

Moolarben Coal Mine Stage 1 and 2 Modifications Submission

The mine at Moolarben has previously been approved to mine 18 million tonnes per year of production coal during the period until 2038. The original approval was granted in 2007, however, since that time climate change induced drought and altered fire regimens have become much more severe, and the urgency of taking swift action to reduce atmospheric carbon emissions is greater. This has been recognised in international treaties like the Paris accord, and in local legal judgements such as Gloucester Resources Ltd vs Minister for Planning 2019. What was assessed as being in the community interest in 2007 may no longer be in the community interest in 2019. The medical community is increasingly concerned by mortality during heat waves, food insecurity due to crop failures, deaths due to extreme weather events, and the spread of tropical diseases to temperate zones.

NPI highlights need for crackdown on coal pollution

An independent study of coal power’s health impacts by epidemiologist and researcher Dr Benjamin Ewald,  stated 279 deaths occur in New South Wales alone annually from coal - related air pollution. This year’s National Pollutant Inventory report results further strengthen the case for getting tough on air pollution.

SMH: Labor's climate contradictions and 'mixed messages' accusations

Despite federal Labor's announcement to reduce emissions by 45% by 2030, WA's state Labor government is promoting the development of massive new LNG projects in the north of the state. DEA has recently released a report and made statements protesting expanding off shore gas developments, calling climate change "the biggest threat to health in human history."  "Continued expansion of this industry without consideration of its emissions cannot continue," said DEA's Dr Richard Yin.

MJA InSight: Planetary health or planetary sepsis?

"It is becoming clear that the dangers to health by unrestrained climate change may become insurmountable", writes DEA's co-chair, Kingsley Faulkner in MJA InSight. Doctors from around Australia gathered in Hobart on 3 April 2019 to declare a climate emergency. They called on the Australian federal and state governments to respond to the significant early signs of climate chaos. The medical doctors from numerous specialties stated that anything less on the part of governments will amount to negligence.

DEA takayna / Tarkine Trip April 2019 

The conflicted beauty of Tasmania’s Tarkine, takayna in the Tasmanian Aboriginal palawa kani language, is unknown to most Australians.

The Tasmanian government is keeping its disgraceful degradation of world heritage forests out of national attention, losing precious tourism investment in exchange for a few votes, while it devalues this great asset.

Tasmanian DEA members Rohan Church and Darren Briggs have been planning for years to take a group of us to this extraordinary place to learn of the beauty and outrage. The 2019 DEA conference in Hobart brought us together and provided a chance to take a group out. Sixteen people began their Tarkine adventure on 8th April 2019 after the Hobart iDEA19 conference.

Western Australian doctors welcome first steps taken in sustainable health care review

WA doctors have today welcomed the Sustainable Health Review report as a first step in addressing climate change as a major health threat, and creating a health system that focuses more on prevention than cure.  Read more here.

iDEA19: “Keeping the Lights On” post conference wrap

Doctors for the Environment Australia were honoured to welcome our colleagues, other health professionals,  climate experts, and guests at this year's  hugely successful iDEA19 conference in nipaluna/Hobart  on 5 -7 April. We came together to address the biggest challenge and opportunity facing humanity today— the impacts of climate change on our health. A major highlight of the conference was the declaration of a climate emergency which sparked national and international interest.

DEA welcomes the ALP announcement on Climate Change and Health Strategy   

Doctors for the Environment Australia applauds the announcement by the ALP to develop Australia’s first National Strategy on Climate Change and Health. This strategy recognises that any further delay in addressing climate change by any new Federal Government is not tenable. 

Doctors declare a climate emergency and call on governments to support the move

Doctors from across the country will today gather in Hobart to declare a Climate Emergency. They will also call on Australia’s federal and state governments and councils to adequately respond to the climate chaos we are experiencing and which will accelerate if no action is taken.  The medical doctors, from various specialisations, will state that anything less on the part of governments amounts to negligence. 

Qld CFPS continuous emissions monitoring challenges Hunter estimates

Emissions measured from Queensland government owned coal-fired power station doubled in the year after continuous emission monitoring was installed. Previously, emissions were estimated as required under the national pollutant reporting scheme. In one year, measurements jumped from 18 to 36 million kg in oxides of nitrogen emissions. DEA and EJA are calling for an urgent overhaul of pollution monitoring and controls. 

Government considering upgrade of Vales Point power station

Epidemiologist and Doctors for the Environment spokesman Ben Ewald said the health burden from the turbine upgrade was unclear. "If they generate more power from the same coal we will have the same pollution burden... but if they are increasing the plant's power capacity by 40MW why would they not increase power output?," he said. Increased power output means more emissions. 

Image courtesy of - US EPA

Transport Pollution

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Media release: DEA welcomes the AMA’s call for environmental sustainability in health care

DEA commends the Australian Medical Association’s call for the Australian Government to establish an Australian Sustainable Development Unit (SDU), based on the successful model used in England’s National Health Service (NHS). The AMA’s recent release of a nine-page document on healthcare environmental sustainability aims to make hospitals and health services more environmentally sustainable. 

Tahmoor South Coal Project Submission

DEA is one of many health and medical organisations calling for urgent action to mitigate climate change. In Australia, these include the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP), The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) and the Australian Medical Association (AMA). Internationally, they include the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the pre-eminent medical journal, The Lancet. Collectively these groups have highlighted the devastating impact a warming climate will have on human health.

It's not a future health threat. It's already here.

In an article by Medical Republic, DEA's Dr David King talks about the increasing problems of treating patients in our changing climate. But addressing climate change has many public health benefits - from cleaning up air pollution to improving our diets. The AMA, AMSA, DEA, GPs and and other medical organisations are calling for action on climate change to safeguard and improve out health. 

The world may be nursing a giant gas bomb

Writing in an op-ed for Renew Economy, David Shearman and Melissa Haswell warn that gas is anything but a 'clean and safe' bridging fuel, and that there is wide evidence of the gas industry's damaging effects on health.  Read their latest comprehensive review of the literature,
and the full article with hyperlinks in Renew Economy, here. 

Onshore Oil and Gas Policy Background paper 2019

Australia plans to become one of the World’s largest producers of natural gas The paper reviews all referenced literature on the mining of gas, potential local harms on the environment and community health from gas mining and its many complex process. It identifies evidence of some health  harms which are already occurring in residents close  to  mines  and in particular in the newborn. Of even greater concern is the greenhouse emission profile of gas production which on recent evidence is probably only marginally less than coal, thus negating its use as a transition to renewable energy.

Expanding gas mining threatens our climate, water and health

In an op-ed published in The Conversation, David Shearman and Melissa Haswell write that Australia aspires to become the world’s largest exporter of gas. But the methane that escapes is a much more potent short-term greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.  And there are significant local and regional risks to health and well-being associated with unconventional gas mining. Their comprehensive review examines the current state of the evidence.

Media release: Major new report busts the myth of gas as a safe “transition” fuel

A new comprehensive review has shown that gas as a safe transition fuel is a dangerous myth, and that in reality this fossil fuel – methane gas - is imperilling the health of Australians. Doctors for the Environment Australia is calling on governments to stop new gas expansions and to increase monitoring, regulation and management of existing wells. 

Image: Rosalie Schultz

Climate change and health in rural Australia

Dr Rosalie Shultz writes, "How has climate change affected you, your community and your workplace? Bushfires have devastated much of the Larapinta Trail near my home in Alice Springs.  Favourite sites and sections are incinerated. I feel grief and sorrow at loss of beauty, but also fear for destruction of ecosystems and the contribution of these fires to ongoing invasion of the region by weeds." 

Media release: Doctors join School Strike 4 Climate

Doctors will today take to the streets in support of the anticipated thousands of Australian school students  who will miss classes to call for urgent action on climate change.  Medical group Doctors for the Environment Australia says climate change is the biggest risk to public health in human history and children, who are especially vulnerable, have good reason to speak out

The Mercury Talking Point: Tasmania burns while leaders fiddle

Many people with unhealthy lifestyle habits make changes only after a wake-up call, a significant health event that brings home to them how precious life is, writes Dr Kris Barnden. The environmental catastrophes that have visited Tasmania and the rest of Australia this summer are our wake-up call. 

Serious questions arise about Glencore's cap on coal output

"Project Caesar", Glencore’s multi-million-dollar coal campaign, sought to disseminate information that would build community, industrial and political pressure to continue to support coal while denigrating expansion of renewables. It is imperative that major polluters such as Glencore get serious about their responsibilities towards reducing their contributions to human-caused climate change. 

SE Qld. autumn heatwave could be new normal

More heat records are tumbling in SE Queensland this week, with prolonged heat waves becoming the new normal for the area. DEA's Dr David King said that “The predictions from the CSIRO are that over the next 50 years we’re going to have two to three times as many extreme heatwaves around Australia” As well as being dangerous, heatwaves impact our productivity.  

The kids are right – we must act on climate change

Australian school children will skip school this Friday as part of a global movement of young people taking to the streets to demand action on climate change. Dr Richard Yin says, "As a doctor and a father, I’ll be there supporting them." The kids are right – 25 years of climate inaction has brought us to the brink of a climate abyss. 

Doctors need to get behind the great food transformation

How do we reduce diet related disease, improve health and feed a global population of 10 billion by 2050 without damaging our planet? The Lancet-EAT commission’s recent launch of “Food in the Anthropocene” sets scientific targets to address this challenging question. It concludes that food could be “the single strongest lever to optimise human health and environmental sustainability on Earth”. However, to achieve this, “a radical transformation of the global food system is urgently required”. 

Two new coal fired power stations proposed for the Hunter Valley

Chinese investors have proposed a plan for the stations on Hunter Economic Zone land. DEA's Dr John Van Der Kallen comments that "It's ludicrous to think anyone's contemplating it while the world faces a climate change emergency. Are they on another planet? It's the wrong proposal at the wrong place and the wrong time," he said. Read the full article here.

Media release: The WA Government and gas industry is peddling myths 

Doctors have today dismissed claims by the WA Government and peak industry that gas is a transition fuel, following the welcome announcements by the WA EPA for tighter regulations on pollution from the State’s large greenhouse gas emitters. 

NewsGP: Medical group supports School Strike 4 Climate 

DEA applauds the children's event, due to take place on 15 March, which will see students skip school  to demand strong action on climate change. GP and DEA's Honorary Secretary Dr Richard Yin describes climate change as the ‘biggest risk to public health in human history’.  He told NewsGP that it is inspiring to see the next generation of young people take control of their future, as the seriousness of the current situation demands that health advocates take action on climate change ‘for the sake of our children’.  

NSW election: our chance to vote 1 for climate and health

The Lancet has described tackling climate change as the ‘greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century.’ The upcoming NSW election is one of those opportunities to improve our health, but we need to vote for politicians who will take climate change seriously. Tackling climate change will involve moving rapidly to renewable energy. 

Brisbane Times: After the deluge, north Queenslanders face a deadly new threat 

DEA's Queensland Chair Dr Beau Frigault writes about the deadly disease meliodosos that has emerged after the record-breaking monsoon in north Queensland. One person has died from melioidosis since the flood, and a further nine people remain in hospital, some of whom are in intensive care. In a city that would normally see a handful of cases a year, this is a significant increase. There may be many more cases of melioidosis to come, as symptoms can show up two to four weeks after exposure. While Queensland has a record of severe weather, yet another "once-in-a-century" event shows how climate change is wreaking havoc on our communities.

United Wambo Open Cut Coal Mine Project Submission

DEA recommends that the New South Wales Government Independent Planning Commission oppose the United Wambo Open Cut Coal Mine project on the grounds of negative health effects of climate change, air pollution, social impacts, water quality and environmental risk as well as the economic damage to the infrastructure of Australia and not least to the lives of individual Australians.

Black Saturday: What have we learnt?

Dr John Iser writes in Independent Australia about the Black Saturday bushfires.
In the ten years since the bushfires of 2009, many improvements have happened in fire prevention and management. However the fundamental major contributing factors to bushfires - heatwaves combined with drought as a consequence of climate change - have been given only lip-service by many in government. 

DEA in the news - Dr Ben Ewald's NSW air quality study

DEA has released new air pollution report this week, widely reported in the media. The study has shown that air pollution is actually worsening in parts of Sydney and NSW, despite government assurances that they take emissions regulations seriously. Following the release of the report which he authored Dr Ben Ewald writes – ‘Air quality is worse than ever in NSW and is "a steady drag" on the health of much of the population.’  Fine particles carry the greatest health burden, proven to cause death, heart disease, lung cancer, stroke, type two diabetes and low birth weight for babies, and they are suspected of causing dementia. Read more...

There’s no healthy debate on mine impacts - by Dr John Van Der Kallen

In a stunning landmark decision, this week the NSW Land and Environment Court recognised the scientific evidence for climate change and the urgent need to reduce emissions. For this reason, and for the negative impacts on the local community, the court dismissed the appeal and ruled against the opening of a new coal mine at Rocky Hill. 

NSW power stations emissions standards to be reviewed under Labor

A Labor government in NSW has promised to review the emissions standards of all NSW's coal-fired power stations, after their current licences have been renewed by the NSW EPA without significant change. DEA's Dr Ben Ewald said "The decision makers in the EPA are ignoring compelling health reasons to clean up power station air pollution. Modern pollution controls are required on vehicles, so why not power stations?"

New DEA data shows an increase in air pollution in parts of Sydney

An independent study of coal power’s health impacts by epidemiologist and researcher Dr Benjamin Ewald published last year stated 279 deaths occur in New South Wales alone annually from related air pollution. In an article from SolarQuotes, this year's NPI report strengthens the case for getting tough on air pollution.

ABC radio - The World Today on heatwaves

Australia has had it's hottest month on record - the mean average temperature was greater 30 degrees, and records are tumbling.  DEA's Dr John van der Kallen interviewed by the ABC about the health impacts of climate change and talks about the increase in frequency of these events going into the future. 

Media release: Doctors call for no more coalmines after Court rejects Rocky Hill on climate change grounds

Doctors call for an end to further extensions of existing coalmines or new mines, such as the Galilee Basin, after a landmark ruling in the NSW Land and Environment Court firmly rejected the Rocky Hill open cut coalmine proposal. 

Media release: Major new report sounds alarm over worsening air pollution in NSW

A comprehensive new report released today by Doctors for the Environment Australia shows NSW’s air quality deteriorated markedly in 2018, overshooting the national standards several times and putting the health of people at risk, especially in parts of Sydney and in the Hunter.

Media release: Major new report sounds alarm over worsening air pollution in NSW

A comprehensive new report released today by Doctors for the Environment Australia shows NSW’s air quality deteriorated markedly in 2018, overshooting the national standards several times and putting the health of people at risk, especially in parts of Sydney and in the Hunter.

Mandatory gas connections are out of step with tackling climate change

New building estates forced to install gas pipelines

DEA's Dr David Shearman and Prof. Melissa Haswell write that while state governments are embracing our urgent need for renewable energy transitions, regulations for large housing developments are lagging behind, facing mandated connections to gas infrastructure within their contracts. Mandatory gas connections are anti-choice, anti-competitive and contrary to combatting climate change. 

Climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of bushfires

Health and the Tasmanian bushfires

 "Tasmania’s usually pristine air is clouded with bushfire smoke", write DEA doctors Anna Johnston and Zoe Ling. Doctors around the state are treating significant health problems exacerbated by toxic bushfire fumes – asthma, heart attacks, strokes, premature births and poor diabetes control. Current government policies are woefully inadequate in limiting warming. The situation will only get worse without effective action.

Independent Australia: The economics of climate change

While the rich get richer, not only do the poor get poorer but the environment continues to suffer, writes Dr David Shearman.

Review of the South Australian Public Health Act 2011 submission

DEA is pleased to comment as a ‘relevant health organisation’ on the operation of the South Australian Public Health Act 2011. DEA notes that the review is intended to consider if, in the first 5 years since commencement of the Act, the objects have been achieved, including if the powers, structures and tools established under the Act have been effective in providing the framework to achieve the objectives in promoting, preserving and protecting the public health of South Australians. 

SMH Opinion: A doctor's prescription for beating the heat

As a GP working in western Sydney, where temperatures can be hotter than the rest of the city, Dr Sujata Allan sees how heat affects vulnerable people every day. She writes that doctors are doing everything they can to ensure patients stay safe in extreme heat, but they cannot in good faith dispense short-term health tips for heatwaves without an urgent plea to tackle climate change.  "The fact that this much-needed climate leadership is glaringly absent makes me sick," says Dr Allan.

ABC Opinion: Why the Western diet needs to shift to a 'planetary health diet' in the age of climate change

Nutritionist and dietitian Dr Rosemary Stanton, who is part of DEA's Scientific Advisory Committee, and DEA member Dr Kris Barnden, examine the results of a recent major scientific report by The Lancet-EAT commission. The three-year study calls for transformative change in how we grow our food and what we eat to improve health, save the planet from further damage to our environment and feed an anticipated 10 billion people by 2050. 

Mineral Resources (Galilee Basin) Amendment Bill 2018 Submission

The Queensland government is considering a new bill - the Mineral Resources (Galilee Basin) Amendment Bill 2018 - that would effectively stop all coal mining in the Galilee Basin. DEA has  provided a submission to the parliamentary committee outlining the compelling reasons the Mineral  Bill should be approved. The risks to water security, ecosystems and air pollution are cause enough, but the overarching concern are the enormous health, economic, security and environmental costs of an inadequate response to global warming. The report’s due date is 30th April 2019. 

The Guardian: Extreme heatwave all-time temperature records fall across parts of Australia

Many states this week announced health warnings about the ongoing heatwave, which has seen record-breaking temperatures in various parts of Australia. DEA member Dr Sujata Allan who works as a GP in western Sydney, which can have maximum temperatures that are as much as 10C higher than in coastal areas, was interviewed by the Guardian about the impact a changing climate can have on human health.

Improving a hospital’s environmental impact: what can a doctor do?

To initiate change within large highly structured organisations such as hospitals is not easy. Doctors for the Environment Australia’s (DEA) practical guide therefore aims to identify areas where change can most easily be initiated to improve a hospital’s environmental impact. Though some suggestions may be seemingly trivial, experience indicates that all of the suggestions in this guide can have a positive impact on environmental outcomes and that doctors can help instigate change. 58% of the NHS’s 2015 CO 2 emissions were from the procurement of goods and services (15% medical drugs) whilst powering of buildings contributed to 20% of emissions and staff and patient travel 12%.

An Australian Healthcare Sustainability Unit (HSU)  - DEA Proposal

A Healthcare Sustainability Unit (HSU) would assist the Australian health care system (primary, secondary and tertiary) to deliver quality health care in environmentally and financially sustainable ways. A HSU could lead research, policy development, system changes and education of staff, fulfilling a central national co-ordinating role for maximum effectiveness and successful implementation of initiatives at state, regional, health network, hospital and practice levels.

Download the DEA HSU Proposal 01-19

How Land Clearing Harms Our Health: Fact Sheet

Forests and native vegetation like grasslands, wetlands and woodlands are vital to our wellbeing yet in Australia we are currently seeing an explosion in land clearing. This has wide ranging and harmful implications for human health.

Why We Need Forests and Native Vegetation for Our Health: Fact Sheet

Forests and native vegetation like grasslands, wetlands and woodlands support our health and the environment in which we live. From purifying our air and water to providing food, medicines and places of psychological restoration. 

Making your practice more eco-friendly

"Our health care sector contributes a hefty 7% to Australia's carbon footprint. But DEA doctors Richard Yin and George Crisp have taken steps to change that in their Perth practice. View the full article from the Medical Observer here."

Onshore oil and gas mining and human health - DEA Position Statement

Continued expansion of natural gas development in Australia carries serious risks for human health and wellbeing both locally and globally. These concerns are detailed in a our Policy Paper on this issue. 

Galilee Basin (Coal Prohibition) Bill 2018 Submission

Further expansion of coal mining is incompatible with action to mitigate climate change . The Australian Government’s consideration of coal-mining in the Galilee Basin highlights the serious disconnect between genuine government commitment to emissions reduction policies, both domestically and as a signatory to the Paris agreement and the approval of new coal mining projects.

AGL APA Gas Import Jetty and Pipeline Project submission

DEA’s overarching concern is clear evidence of the substantial and rising greenhouse gas footprint of Australia’s expanding gas and oil industry that threatens efforts to urgently reduce emissions and mitigate global warming. Currently Australia is the second largest LNP exporter in the world and expected to be the largest exporter by 2019. 

Northern Gas Pipeline Submission

Containment of gas development is vital if national and international greenhouse emissions are to be reduced quickly to address accelerating climate change. It is inappropriate to use subsidies for a pipeline which would enable gas production to be increased. Derogation is effectively a subsidy for the pipeline paid for by consumers. Onshore gas development has an increasing number of concerning medical impacts which will need costly health and environmental monitoring and will further detract from the economic viability of the project at a time when renewable energy development is cheaper and non harmful.

State of the Environment Report

The State of the Environment Report released Thursday 20th December by the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology emphasises again that climate change is happening now and Australia is vulnerable to it. Key findings are that warming of 1°C has occured since 1910, heatwaves are happening over land and sea, rainfall and streamflows are declining across much of southern Australia, sea levels are rising, and the bushfire season is longer.....

A doctor's prescription for climate change

The 2018 State of the Climate report again highlights the risks to our planet our health and our well-being. DEA's Colin Butler explains that when we've overdosed on fossil fuels "As with a real vaccine, which requires a tiny dose of something potentially harmful we seem to need a dose of poison (in this case fear) before we act. We also need hope...."  View the full article here

Mt Piper Power Station License Review Submission

Along with Mt Piper Power Station License Review, submissions were also submitted for the Eraring Power Station and the Vales Point Power Station in New South Wales.

Preventing heat related disease in general practice

DEA Members Drs Peter Tait, Sujata Allan & Anthea Katelaris have published a paper in the Australian Journal Of General Practice  aiming to introduce GPs to heat-related morbidity and mortality.  

The irony of healthcare

As health professionals, we have an expected overriding duty of care to do no harm and advocate for action to protect health and humanity. Yet few of us consider the health consequences associated with the significant ecological footprint, including greenhouse gas emissions, of our workplaces.

Climate change denial is delusion, and the biggest threat to human survival

Climate denial is dangerous - it's delaying our urgent need for emissions reduction. Climate policy must be guided by scientific expert opinion and removed from political chicanery by the implementation of new environmental laws which have application to health.

Doctor Portal - Children and climate change: no time for games

Paediatrician and DEA member, Dr Karen Kiang and Professor David Isaacs write that without urgently reducing emissions, climate change threatens the the very foundations of children’s health. We are already seeing the health impacts of a warming planet, and Australia is one of the most climate vulnerable countries of the developed world. 

Sydney Morning Herald: Climate change threatens our children's health as well as their future

From Prof. Fiona Stanley and Dr George Crisp an urgent reminder that it’s children who will suffer most if we fail to take effective action to reduce emissions. Children are especially vulnerable to the health impacts of a warming climate. As doctors, we have a role and responsibility to speak out and advocate for their future health and security. 

No Time For Games Summary Report Update (2018)

Climate change is the greatest threat to human health in the current century, with our children living in a world of rising temperatures and increasing extreme weather events. Children are especially vulnerable and face growing threats from communicable diseases (diarrhoea, vector-borne diseases) and non-communicable diseases (asthma, malnutrition), injuries, and mental health impacts because of the changing climate and related extreme weather events.

New report from EJA. The Health Burden of fine particle pollution from electricity generation in NSW.

Dr Ben Ewald, DEA member, GP and epidemiologist has written a report for Environmental Justice Australia on the annual health burden from exposure to fine particle pollution from the five coal fired power stations in NSW.

Bylong Coal Project submission

Dr Kathleen Wild represented DEA at the recent Independent Planning Commission meeting in Mudgee regarding the Bylong Coalmine proposal. It was the last opportunity for the community to try and stop the “green fields”  proposal. There were over 60 presentations flanked by a heavy police presence. Kathleen did an excellent job outlining the importance of keeping coal in the ground to reduce carbon emissions.

Impassioned call for doctors to lead on climate change | Croakey

DEA Chair, Professor Kingsley Faulkner spoke Wednesday 21st November to a conference of Australian and New Zealand emergency doctors, issuing "an impassioned call to arms to ED doctors on the moral and ethical imperative of climate change, an issue with significant implications for their work". He spoke of the wide ranging health effects and the urgency for action on climate change.

The dirty truth: Australia's most polluted post codes 

"A new report by the Australian Conservation Foundation finds 90% of the burden of air pollution falls on low and middle income households, while wealthier Australians experience only a fraction of annual national emissions. Of the five most polluted postal areas, coal-fired power stations are the largest emitters in three, while mining operations create the most in the other two. The most polluted urban areas are often located on the fringes of major population centres, including the Port of Brisbane, Altona in Melbourne, Botany Bay and Port Adelaide".

Why aren't public institutions managing the greatest public health threat of the 21st century?

DEA member Kathleen Wild spoke at the NSW Independent Planning Commission on why the proposed Bylong Valley coal mine should not go ahead. She explains why in an article published in the Newcastle Herald Monday November 19th.

New report on Electricity Policy for Australia

A new report out today by Honorary Associate Professor, NSW, Mark Diesendorf, published by the Australia Institute is a road map to a 100% renewable electricity system, essential if Australia is to play its part in limiting global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius.

Dr Amanda Bethell

Coal ash dam, Port Augusta GP speaks out

DEA SA Committee member, Leanne Nguyen, caught up with Dr Bethell to talk to her about health impacts relating to increased dust storms events in the region after the closure of Port Augusta’s two coal-powered stations and what has motivated her to take-action as a medical professional.

The West Australian: Ban fracking to protect our community's health

Although the Western Australian inquiry into fracking has been concluded, the State Government is yet to release its recommendations on the future of this industry. Former Australian of the Year, Professor Fiona Stanley, and WA DEA Chair Dr Richard Yin write that a public health approach would favour caution until the evidence for the industry's safety is clear.

The Driven: Australian doctors call for better EV policy in wake of WHO air pollution report

Australia has significant pollution levels, and needs to phase out coal and to reform vehicle emissions controls, following the release of a WHO report that highlighted the terrible impacts of air pollution, particularly on children.  DEA's Dr Graeme McLeay told The Driven, that despite the urgency, the ministerial forum on electric vehicles in 2015  has so far lead to “zero action”, and added that something must be done, and soon. 

Fairfax regional: Climate change is bad for schoolkids, too

Over the next few weeks, school and university students will be sitting their end of year exams. Often an anxious occasion, the latest research shows these end of year assessments will likely prove to be challenging for one reason more than most – the heat, writes Dr Beau Frigault.

The Saturday Paper: Climate change claims its first mammal extinction

The Bramble Cay melomys is the first mammal species whose demise can be attributed directly to climate change. Rising global temperatures will have grim outcomes for many living things. DEA's National Chair Professor Kingsley Faulkner, who was interviewed for this article, highlights that human health will be a major cost. 

Protecting Children's Health in a Changing Climate

Climate change is not only the biggest global health threat this century, it has also become the most urgent  health threat. The impacts of climate change at 1°C rise of global warming are already apparent. Weather extremes have resulted in record-breaking fires, floods, storms, heat waves and droughts. Our children are at the greatest risk from climate change-- their bodies and minds are less able to cope with extreme weather and they also stand to lose most in terms of life years lost.   

The Conversation: We have so many ways to pursue a healthy climate – it's insane to wait any longer

"As a broadly trained life scientist, my concern about climate change isn’t the health of the planet. The rocks will be just fine! What worries me is a whole spectrum of “wicked” challenges, from sustaining food production, to providing clean water, to maintaining wildlife diversity and the green environments that ensure the survival of complex life on Earth", writes Nobel laureate Professor Peter Doherty.

The West Australian (Letters): Offsets on gas vital for climate

If Western Australia were to be opened up to unconventional gas mining, emissions from this source alone would have the potential to exceed by three times Australia's total emissions budget for energy, writes DEA's WA Chair Dr Richard Yin. With the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report highlighting that we are in a climate emergency, it's time the Mark McGowan Government shows leadership on this critical issue. 

DEA urges Wentworth candidates to prioritise  #HealthyPlanetHealthyPeople

Doctors for the Environment Australia calls on all candidates in the Wentworth by-election on Saturday to support increased action on climate change. The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report endorsed by the Australian Medical Association, highlights that we are in the midst of a climate emergency and urgent action is required to decarbonize, including the rapid phasing out of coal-fired electricity and an end to our dependence on fossil fuels.

Newcastle Herald: What pollution monitoring in Newcastle suburbs shows

Local residents in Newcastle have for years been complaining about air quality from diesel vehicles and locomotives, domestic wood heating, and coal fired power stations even though these are 30 to 95 kilometres away.  Dr Ben Ewald writes that the expansion of air pollution monitoring in Newcastle, with three new sites established at Mayfield, Carrington and Stockton four years ago, reveals disturbing results. 

MJAInsight: Health, environment impacts of fracking not adequately considered

Natural gas (primarily methane) has a reputation for being clean and “good” for the climate because burning gas for cooking, heating and power emits fewer pollutants compared with burning coal-- but it is the process of obtaining the gas that creates major health and environmental concerns, writes Professor Melissa Haswell.

Canberra Times: Probability and severity of global warming must be explored

As concerned citizens in Europe and the US take governments to the courts for their failure to act on climate change,  Dr Graeme McLeay asks whether the Australian government should now stand accused of the same negligence.

Draft State Public Health Plan (SA) 2019-2024

DEA in South Australia has contributed to the South Australian Public Health Plan 2019-2024, building on our previous Submissions on the 2013 Plan and during Consultation on the new Plan.  DEA affirms much of what is included in the draft State Public Health Plan but have advocated for climate change being an urgent and cross-cutting issue rather than one among a number of other priorities. We have also indicated that the links between human health and the environment must be strengthened, and that the development of a sustainable and climate-resilient health system provides a key opportunity for progress.  DEA has indicated that resources for implementation governance are essential and that we are willing to continue to work with SA Health on this important State Public Health Plan.

ABC Opinion: Climate change leading to 'solastalgia', the feeling you get when your home is wrecked

Climate change can lead to 'solastalgia', writes Dr Richard Yin ahead of Mental Health Week starting Monday 7 October.  While nostalgia relates to pain from leaving one's home, solastagia is the homesickness you have when your home or sense of place is damaged.

Katherine Times: Medical specialists examine the risks of fracking in the NT

DEA member and public health  researcher, Professor Melissa Haswell, will discuss the evidence linking shale gas mining or fracking to environmental damage, worsening climate change and potential impacts on human health at the  Royal Australasian College of Physicians annual scientific meeting in the NT in October. Also Professor Haswell will urge the NT Government to develop alternatives to fracking that won’t  compromise the health of NT communities.

Media release:  Medical specialists examine the risks of fracking in the NT

The public health risks of unconventional gas mining of natural gas from underground shale deposits (often referred to as ‘fracking’), will be examined by Professor Melissa Haswell, a public health researcher and member of Doctors for the Environment Australia, at the Royal Australian College of Physicians (RACP) Annual Scientific Meeting in the Northern Territory in October.  

Queensland Country Life: Our Future - Heat is on as climate change stokes the fire

Bushfires can have significant physical and psychological impacts on those who experience them, and pollutants from bushfires affect air quality, not only locally, but up to thousands of kilometres away from their source, writes DEA's Queensland Chair Dr Beau Frigault. 

ABC Opinion: Human survival cannot be left to politicians. We're losing our life support systems

Why are we stripping the very foundations that sustain us? Biodiversity loss and climate change are together set to transform us to an alien world and our survival can't be left to politicians, writes DEA's Honorary Secretary Dr David Shearman.  

Independent Australia: The Morrison Government- an extraordinary health hazard

Climate change denial is the denial of many public health casualties. For example, the increasing number of injuries and deaths from extreme weather events and the psychological and economic trauma consequent to severe climatic change. New Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who when Treasurer carried coal into Parliament, has appointed avid anti-wind farm campaigner, Angus Taylor, as Energy Minister and ex-coal-company lawyer, Melissa Price, as Environment Minister. There has been no mention of climate change in either portfolio. Read more -->

RN Late Night Live with Phillip Adams: Killing me softly with diesel

In Australia, air pollution kills more people than the annual road toll, yet, we are buying more and more diesel cars. In many European cities, diesel is banned, so why is Australia with its highly urbanised population so slow to act, especially given the potentially dire health implications?  Dr Graeme McLeay is a guest on Phillip Adams' show, Late Night Live. Read more-->

Photo of a Regent Honeyeater, Hunter Valley, by Doug Beckers

Submission to the Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications - Australia’s faunal extinction crisis

Doctors for the Environment Australia is pleased to comment on this Enquiry for the extinction crisis reflects the rapid decline in biodiversity and ecological services, nationally and internationally, with grave implications for many aspects of human health and survival.

There are currently nearly 500 threatened faunal species and our current environment laws, especially the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC), are woefully inadequate.

A lack of biodiversity in faunal species impacts human health by threatening our food and water sources, current and potential medicines and crucial cultural and psychological wellsprings.

Download DEA's submission to the Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications - Australia’s faunal extinction crisis.

NSW Hunter Valley coal mine pollution: doctors call on Ministers to visit and clear the air

Thirty NSW Hunter Valley doctors, including members of DEA,  are among 100 people who  have signed a joint letter to the NSW Ministers for Health and the Environment, asking them to visit the region and experience for themselves the poor air quality caused by the coal mining industry which is putting the community at risk.  Read more—>

Coal News for September 2018

In the Hunter region of NSW the community continues to be exposed to pollution from coal fired power stations and coal mines. In the Upper Hunter there have been numerous air quality alerts which the government continues to ignore. Local GPs continue to be busy dealing with the health impacts such as exacerbations in asthma and sinusitis. Locals have their houses shaken by nearby mine blasts with the risk of exposure to blast fume. They have to make sure they hang their washing out on calm days or their clean clothes become covered by dust. But of course, none of this seems to matter when coal mining and “cheap” electricity is at stake!

Newcastle Herald: Climate change will make droughts more frequent, making David Littleproud's comments even more extraordinary

Agriculture is on the frontline of a climate emergency. Farmers’ livelihoods depend on their capacity to survive changes such as drought; and everyone’s survival depends on their ability to continue growing our food. So why does Australia not have a plan to cope with climate change events? asks DEA's NSW Chair Dr John Van Der Kallen. Read more-->

Briefing Paper: Climate Change and Health

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ABC Opinion: Climate change is World War III, and we are leaderless

Along with the rest of the Western world, Australia now more than ever is bereft of leadership on crucial action to curb global warming, writes DEA’s Honorary Secretary Dr David Shearman. However in order to save lives, the need for change must be accepted by the corporate empires that pollute and exploit the natural environment, and by our political class starting with our new PM Scott Morrison. Read more—>

Newcastle Herald: New study finds that fine particle pollution from mining and power stations is shaving months from average life expectancy

Poor air quality is shortening the average life expectancy, a new international study published this week in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters has found. It calculated an Australian with a life expectancy of 82.4 years in 2016 would lose 0.178 years from their life as a result of air pollution. Doctors for the Environment Australia has a long history of advocating for national reporting standards to protect health. Read more-->

Briefing Paper: a New Generation of Environmental Laws

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Briefing Paper: Coal production must be curtailed urgently

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Briefing Paper: Unconventional Gas

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Briefing Paper: Air Pollution

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Briefing Paper: Environmentally Sustainable Healthcare

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Briefing Paper: Agriculture and climate change

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Narrabri Coal Seam Gas and Public Health Conference

On 15-16th August 2018 DEA members from NSW (Dr John Van Der Kallen and Dr Helen Redmond) and Qld (Dr Geralyn McCarron and Professor Melissa Haswell) travelled to the north-west inland town of Narrabri to attend and speak at a Coal Seam Gas and Public Health Conference organised and chaired by North West Protection Advocacy. Narrabri Shire is the site of the Narrabri Gas Project of Santos, an 850 well coal seam gas field in the final stages of approval. Helen, Geralyn and Melissa all spoke at the conference, together with Shay Dougall and Dr Methuen Morgan. The audience included local townsfolk, farmers from surrounding regions and members of the Kamilaroi people. 

Photo by Michael Amadeus

Submission to the Review of the National Pollution Inventory (NPI)

In Australia, it is estimated that urban air pollution contributes to approximately 3,000 deaths annually – more than double the deaths of the national road toll. As part of its advocacy for cleaner air,  DEA has made a number of recommendations in a submission to a review of the National Pollution Inventory (NPI). Read more -->

MJAInsight: Why doctors should care about the National Energy Guarantee

The federal government has been bullishly promoting its proposed signature energy policy, the National Energy Guarantee (NEG), which aims to ensure reliable and affordable ongoing electricity supply, despite rogue elements within the party, led by former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who are set on derailing it. But there are important reasons why  Australia doctors should reject the NEG, write Drs Chris Juttner and John Iser. Read more -->

Newcastle Herald: Doctors say fireworks emissions should be included in national pollution review

Doctors for the Environment Australia has told a Federal 20-year review of the National Pollutant Inventory (NPI), which is considering submissions for a report to Australia’s environment ministers, that fireworks should be included for the first time. Read more -->

Independent Australia: The NEG and the "idiocy" of COALition climate change wars

Some members of the Coalition are in a state of denial — denial in the face of the global consequences of climate change, writes DEA's Dr Graeme McLeay.  Heatwaves and wildfires in the Northern Hemisphere are killing people and drought is again ravaging rural communities in Australia. Yet we are now in a surreal world where consequences and causes are disconnected, where science is ignored in the face of existential threats and where building coal-fired power stations is viewed by some in Government – such as former PM Abbott, Member for Hughes Craig Kelly and Resource Minister Matt Canavan, among others – as some sort of an answer to Australia’s future. Read more -->

The Guardian: Dirty coal: health fears of a town covered in dust from disused power station

A flawed rehabilitation of an ash dam has blown coal dust across Port Augusta (SA) and its 14,000 residents for the last two years, reports The Guardian. DEA's Honorary Secretary Dr David Shearman, who is quoted in this story, says the likely mixture of dust and small particles could pose a risk to locals’ health. 

The “C” word that must be uttered

Climate change is fundamentally a health issue. Doctors' groups need to face up to this truth and divest from hazardous fossil fuels, which are one of the primary drivers of rising temperatures, writes DEA's Richard Yin in this piece for doctorportal.

Media release: Reject the NEG, urge doctors

Doctors urge energy ministers ahead of the COAG meeting on Friday to “reject absolutely” the current National Energy Guarantee proposal, as it will delay the necessary decarbonisation needed to stabilise rising emissions that are contributing to the harrowing extreme weather events in Australia and globally. 

Text of letter on divestment sent to Royal Colleges (apart from RACP) and other doctors' organisations

In welcome news, the American Medical Association recently voted to divest their financial holdings from fossil fuel companies. To date the only major medical organisation in Australia to move its investments from these hazardous fuels has been the RACP. DEA has written to the AMA, RACGP, RACS, ANZCA, ACEM, RANZCOG, RANZCP, ACRMM urging them to divest from fossil fuels and signal their commitment to action on climate change. Read the letter HERE.

Save Our Sands: Mining in Rural Communities

Many regional communities in NSW are affected by mining, which is a very distant and abstract concept to people in urban areas. In Sydney, people don’t engage with the health and environmental issues mining creates – they don’t think it affects them. But what happens when Government approves a mine that does affect Sydney, in particular, its drinking water?

ABC online: Australia's climate change adaptation plan is non-existent

The recently released UK climate plan should be compulsory reading for the Australian Government, because we have no such plan, writes Dr David Shearman who poignantly highlights that: "Considering the lives that will be lost, this is negligence in medical terms. And as a doctor, it concerns me greatly: all doctors recognise the vital need for adaptation to manage the growing health risks of climate change." Read more HERE.

Senate Select Committee on Electric Vehicles submission

"Electricity is the thing. There are no whirring and grinding gears with their numerous levers to confuse. There is not that almost terrifying uncertain throb and whirr of the powerful combustion engine. There is no water-circulating system to get out of order-no dangerous and evil smelling gasoline and no noise.”  Edison to Ford c1895 

Download the Senate Select Committee on Electric Vehicles submission

Rix's Creek North Mod 8 Submission

The fundamental rationale of the EIS process is to assess the balance of positive and negative impacts upon which informed decisions can be made. The impacts may be environmental, health, social and economic. Whilst DEA addresses public health issues pertaining particularly to environmental causes of ill health, it is clear that good health exists within the wider context of sustainability and preservation of ecological support systems. On this basis we make this submission. 

The Mercury: National energy policy failing our community

THE Coalition’s rush to implement the National Energy Guarantee looks set to lock in a continued reliance on fossil fuels for our energy-- despite clean alternatives, writes DEA's Dr Rohan ChurchWhile Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull may claim to be "technology-agnostic" when it comes to securing our energy, it's impossible to remain agnostic when faced with the significant disease burden from coal-fired power generation. Read more HERE.

Blue Mountains Gazette: EPA to monitor air quality in Blue Mountains

The NSW Environment Protection Authority will monitor the Blue Mountains' air quality for the first time after strong pressure from the community, including doctors, about the uncovered coal trains travelling up and down the Mountains. Read more HERE.

ACCC power pricing report: COALition's excuse for more coal

With the release last week of the ACCC report on power prices, it hasn't taken long for the pro-coal faction to start speaking out. However overlooked and ignored, once again, is the health costs. DEA's Graeme McLeay explains in this article in Independent Australia

Environmental Sustainability & Healthcare: What do Health Professionals Need to Know?

Every doctor needs to view this superb presentation by Katherine Barraclough at ANZ Association for Health Professional Educators. It details why environmental sustainability is core business for health professionals and an essential part of health education.

Proposed changes to timber harvesting in NSW’s coastal forests

Former Premier of NSW Bob Carr is dismayed by Berejiklian's environmental vandalismIn this submission DEA details just one aspect of this destruction - forest clearance. See below for the DEA submission to the NSW government on this issue and note the previous two recent articles from John van der Kallen on this topic. 

Download DEA's submission regarding the proposed changes to timber harvesting in NSW’s coastal forests

Read more:

Healthy changes can help address climate challenge

A health system with greater focus on preventing illness and promoting health, the judicious use of resources, less waste and low-carbon models of care will have health, financial and environmental benefits across Australia. Peter Sainsbury President of CAHA and DEA member Kate Charlesworth detail the action all doctors can take. Read the article in the Examiner.

OpenForum: Why Tony Abbott is wrong about the Paris climate accord

It is concerning when a leading voice in Australian politics says that as a country, we need to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. The likes of Mr Abbott fall into the category of deniers who choose not to believe that climate change is a terrifying reality. Read this prescription for Mr Abbott  from Queensland General Practitioner and DEA State Secretary Lucy-Jane Watt.

Energy Security Board - Draft Detailed Design of the National Energy Guarantee Consultation Paper submission

DEA’s submission to the detailed design consultation paper emphasises that, once again, the Energy Security Board (ESB) has completely failed to consider any of the health problems and health costs associated with pollution, climate change and rising electricity prices.  The ESB and the federal government totally ignore the other 2/3 of emissions production from transport, industry and manufacturing and agriculture.  They have no policies in these areas.  This means that Australia will fail to meet its Paris Agreement Targets.  Australia will fail its global commitment to emissions reduction.  These failures guarantee deaths and illness for the people of Australia.

Download the ESB - Draft Detailed Design of the National Energy Guarantee Consultation Paper submission

Media release: Doctors warn the NEG will increase deaths  

The failure of the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) to reduce carbon emissions will place Australians at more risk of sickness and death from extreme weather events, warn medical doctors ahead of the Turnbull Government’s plans to approve the NEG in August. 

NEG - Draft Detailed Design for Consultation - Commonwealth Elements submission

The Federal Government’s proposed National Energy Guarantee (NEG) is being presented as a bipartisan solution to electrical energy supply. However, DEA agrees with energy experts that this proposal only entrenches the dominance of coal-fired power in the eastern states and locks-out the emergence of more renewable energy. With the NEG, ambitious emissions reduction would be overlooked in the interests of false claims that a dominance of coal-fired power is the only way to ensure energy security and reliability.

Download the National Energy Guarantee - Draft Detailed Design for Consultation - Commonwealth Elements submission

The COALition's coal infection: Is it contagious?

Graeme McLeay calls out the Coalition in a spoof on coal, with Independent Australia providing an excellent cartoon and a video of John Clarke. Graeme asks “How is it that so many of our elected representatives are so divorced from scientific reality?” Read the article here.

Of Places, Faces, and Stories: What can the Environment and Health movement learn from Global Health?

“Humanism, I strongly believe, must excavate the silences, the world of memory, of itinerant, barely surviving groups, the places of exclusion and invisibility, the kind of testimony that doesn't make it onto the reports but which more and more is about whether an overexploited environment, sustainable small economies and small nations, and marginalised peoples outside as well as inside the maw of the metropolitan centre can survive the grinding down and flattening out and displacement that are such prominent features of globalisation." Edward W Said

Future of Australian forests is vital to our own

Forests add value to our lives in so many ways.

They clean our air and water, promote rain formation and protect soils from salinity and erosion.

SA’s new State Public Health Plan

Each state is responsible for developing a plan to address the health harms of climate change and  as expected  there are varying degrees of action. In SA the DEA committee has been involved in consultations and their submissions and suggestions are detailed here

Adani Infrastructure’s North Galilee Water Scheme (NGWS) Project submission

Despite ongoing public pressure, missed deadlines and lack of secure funding, Adani is pushing ahead with their plans to build Australia's largest coal mine in the Galilee Basin. Their latest bid is to extract yet more water - from the Suttor River via the North Galilee Water Scheme - without a full environmental assessment. This water would potentially be used for other coal mines in the area, and the Suttor River feeds into the major river system going to the Great Barrier Reef. DEA put in a submission to Adani's North Galilee Water Scheme Project to have this project fully scrutinised both for its health and environmental impacts.

Submission to the Clean Air for all Victorians: Victoria’s Air Quality Statement

The Victorian Government continues to involve the community in developing strategies to improve air quality in Victoria.
DEA points out that Victoria needs to take stronger measures to reduce pollutants particularly from the coal-fired power stations in the Latrobe Valley. 
Download DEA's submission to the Clean Air for all Victorians: Victoria’s Air Quality Statement 

The Australian did not wish to publish this letter

It is predictable that an economist (Comment, The Australian 19/6) would look purely at economics to downplay the necessity of emissions reduction. To use simplified and somewhat distorted economics without considering the science of climate change and its broader repercussions on the biosphere does us no service.

DEA and the New Logging Laws at NSW Parliament

John Van Der Kallen presented at NSW Parliament House at the launch of the Forests For All: Case for Change event organised by the National Parks Association. The meeting highlighted the NSW government changes in zoning laws which allow clear felling of old growth forest. DEA supports the Forest for all Plan as the way to protect remaining NSW forests.

Coal, Ugas and Health News for June 2018

There continues to be an ongoing battle between advocacy to protect the health and wellbeing of the population and the fossil fuel industry.

How persistent and respectful advocacy is getting this doctor heard on climate change

Getting people to listen to and understand the consequences of climate change can seem daunting. As DEA's Dr Kim Loo explains, advocacy can begin in our own home electorates. Her simple strategies of persistence and respect regardless of individual views are helping to shift opinions and encourage the societal changes that are needed to protect our planet. Read more.

Response to Central Queensland Coal Project (Styx) Supplementary EIS

DEA made a submission in 2017 opposing this new coal mine. Our criticisms were opposed in a supplementary EIS.
We have responded to this repeating that this is a dangerous mine to travellers on the Bruce Highway, because of blast plumes from explosions. The mine workings drain into an estuary and therefore is harmful to the Reef. The groundwater of this agricultural area is also under threat. The Queensland government continues to present huge problems for the climate and the Reef.

Summary framework for consultation: SA DRAFT State Public Health Plan 2019-2024

South Australia's second state public health plan is currently under development. The DEA(SA) committee recently prepared a submission commenting on the draft summary framework for the new plan, highlighting opportunities for increased consideration of environmental health issues and the need for a 'climate and health in all policies' approach. DEA(SA) has offered to provide ongoing input during the development of the new plan, with a draft expected in August 2018.
Download DEA's submission to the summary framework for consultation: SA DRAFT State Public Health Plan 2019-2024.

Stock Journal: Why electric cars should be powering Aussie roads

Electric vehicles can dramatically reduce the numbers of premature deaths from air pollution in Australia, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and also provide a range of terrific benefits for drivers. However despite the many pluses, Australia will continue to be a dumping ground for high polluting vehicles, writes Dr Graeme McLeay.  

Exploring ways to improve farmers' interaction with the EPBC Act 1999 

DEA has made a submission to this review. The government notice says “Independent Reviewer, Dr Wendy Craik, is undertaking a short-term targeted review to reduce red-tape and find practical ways to help farmers meet the requirements of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). The review will help unpack the issues faced by farmers to find real solutions while maintaining the high environmental standards Australia is renowned for." The use of the words “red tape” is likely to indicate the real intent but DEA has risen above these political aims.

Download DEA's Submission on Exploring ways to improve farmers' interaction with the EPBC Act 1999

Acland mine expansion versus human health

Young people and medical students in Queensland are not being heard in the decisions on new coal mines. We are going to have to manage the environmental, community and health mess left by the fossil fuel industry and New Acland Coal (NAC). The latest event is that Queensland’s environment department is investigating claims that the mining company New Hope may have circumvented due process by expanding stage 2 operations (some of which overlap with proposed stage 3 operations) at its New Acland coalmine without waiting for approval. This is disturbing given the Courts have not made their final judgment on stage 3 of this protracted case. Read the full analysis in the article by Kaiya Ferguson the National Student Representative of Doctors for the Environment Australia. She is a final year medical student in Brisbane, at the University of Queensland. 

Why Australia’s youth vote is the key to climate action - Openforum

The Coalition’s failure to mention climate change even once in the budget is a reckless betrayal of the community’s right to good health— especially for young Australians. Young people are recognising that they are the most affected by the government’s decisions and becoming more politically active. Youth groups such as The Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC), Australia’s first Indigenous youth climate network SEED and Fossil Free Unis are engaging in political activism such as protesting, petitioning and in direct communication with politicians. Medical student members of Doctors for the Environment Australia promote divesting from fossil fuels for doctors, their universities and for themselves as well as briefing politicians.
Read the full article in Open Forum from Edward Stoios, student member of DEA Queensland Committee.

Climate policy is a fiendish problem for governments – time for an independent authority with real powers

The Conversation is a prestigious publication and DEA publishes in it from time  to time. The Conversation is  having its annual donations drive and to mark this, 8 articles known by the editors to have had an impact over the past 12 months are republished.
One of the eight is by Peter Doherty, member of DEA Scientific Advisory Committee on the New Generation of Environmental Laws. Read here

Queensland’s land clearing laws: a victory for health

Queensland contributed 19 million tonnes of greenhouse gas in 2015 from land clearing, which was 80 percent of all the greenhouse gas from land use change in Australia for that year. After much anticipation, Queensland’s land clearing laws were finally passed last month. The laws are a significant step forward. The Annastacia Palaszczuk Government’s land clearing bill will start rectifying much of the terrible damage done to Queensland’s bushland, ecosystems and wildlife under the previous Liberal National Party government.  As explained by Lucy-Jane Watt, DEA secretary of the DEA QLD committee, this is a health issue. Read full article in Croakey.

The Doctor as Leader in Sustainable Healthcare, Dr David Pencheon

This is an armchair medical recording of Dr David Pencheon OBE speaking at the Western Sydney Forum during his recent tour of Australia. Dr Pencheon is the founding Director of the Sustainable Development Unit (SDU) for NHS England and Public Health England (www.sduhealth.org.uk). The SDU was established in 2007 with the task of ensuring the NHS operated in an environmentally sustainable way – starting with reducing its carbon emissions. Between 2007 and 2015 the NHS reduced its carbon emissions by 11% – exceeding the 10% target set in 2009, despite health and care activity increasing by 18%. This represents a saving of £1.85bn, and more broadly, the first steps in a transition towards a sustainable and resilient health and care system.

DEA commends the AMA for supporting the Uluru statement

Doctors across the nation will commend the AMA President Dr Tony Bartone for his support of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. DEA believes that the need for Constitutional reform as expressed in this Statement will help to remove from our nation the stain of dispossession and neglect and will be an important step in improving the health and well being of Aboriginal people. READ ON

Gregadoo Solar Farm Project (NSW) Submission

DEA strongly supports the Gregadoo Solar farm project. The reduction of Carbon intensive energy generation is an essential component of limiting our greenhouse gas emissions, which are contributing to global warming with devastating effect on the health of the planet and its inhabitants. Pollution from Carbon energy also contributes significantly to ill health. 

Coal News from NSW

Independent Australia: Electric vehicles threaten oil but are a boon for health

THE 2018 Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA)  conference to discuss better ways to dig fossil fuels out of the Earth wrapped up in Adelaide recently and it’s a sure bet they did not discuss your health. A report by consulting firm Deloitte presented at APPEA reveals oil and gas executives see electric vehicles as a threat to their industry. They are right to be worried about their bottom line, writes Dr Graeme McLeay.

The Conversation: Five ways hospitals can reduce their environmental footprint

Our healthcare sector produces 7% of Australia's emissions. Hospitals are only responsible for half of that, but there are many ways to reduce their environmental footprint and improve sustainability. DEA's Dr Forbes McGain, an expert in sustainability, outlines five of them.

Video: The story of Green Hospitals

DEA is proud to bring you the Story of Green Hospitals, a must-view short video on sustainable healthcare by our talented medical student members!  While hospitals are designed to improve health, they also contribute to the burden of disease because of their significant environmental footprint. There are a range of practical solutions that hospitals can adopt to improve health outcomes for people and planet, as well as reduce costs to the healthcare budget. View now!

Gloucester Advocate: Public meeting ahead of mine appeal

The Department of Planning and Environment and the Planning Assessment Commission in NSW knocked back an application for the Rocky Hill coal mine because the development is not in the public interest. The mine applicants  will challenge this decision at the Land and Environment Court in August.  NSW doctors, including DEA members, have written a Letter to the Editor of the Gloucester Advocate about their concerns, and have also urged readers to attend a public meeting on Wednesday 23 May at 6.30pm at Gloucester Soldiers Club.  Want to know more about DEA's position?  

Croakey: And here is the Budget reply speech that Bill Shorten should have given

In his Budget reply speech last week, Opposition leader Bill Shorten mentioned tax 39 times and climate change twice, while hospitals were mentioned 12 times.  Shorten missed an important opportunity to advocate for urgent climate action, according to Professor David Shearman who is the Hon Secretary of Doctors for the Environment Australia and Emeritus Professor of Medicine at the University of Adelaide.  Shearman says the 2018 federal budget should have been a piece of cake for climate and health, leadership and democracy. Instead, the carve-up of the budgetary chocolate cake was driven by self-interest, rather than care for future generations. 

No extra public air monitoring but Vales Point license tightened

The communities around the Vales Point coal-fired power station in NSW suffer an increased incidence of asthma. The power station may now face stricter and more consistent pollution licensing as a result of recommendations from the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA). DEA and Environmental Justice Australia have had a significant role in bring this about as you can read in this article.

What in health’s name is an ERT?

Emissions reduction targets are not an idle, notional concept but give reassurance and certainty to those involved in changing the energy mix.
DEA suggests that the Victorian government should be setting strong targets up to 2030 in pursuit of its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, in order to safeguard the health of future generations.” Read full article in Renew Economy.

The Mercury: All not well in the greenhouse

The Tasmanian Government may well be celebrating an apparent benchmark of becoming Australia’s first carbon neutral state 30 years ahead of its plans. But as Dr Rohan Church writes in this opinion piece, the reality is  that the Will Hodgman Government is riding on the back of a collapse in the logging industry, and has taken few, if any, active steps towards this goal. 

Labor’s 2018 budget reply speech: A Fair go for Australia?

Among the long list of initiatives aimed at giving Australians a “fair go”, Opposition leader Bill Shorten’s much-awaited budget reply speech did not offer anything new on climate change, emissions or renewables. This is despite the urgent need to address global warming,  a public health emergency whose impacts we are seeing daily through avoidable sickness and deaths from extreme weather events. Nonetheless while Labor could have dared to be bolder, raised the bar that much further on climate policies, these are a step in the right direction. 

The 2018 federal budget misses the math on climate and health

It is the opinion of DEA that the federal budget was a short-sighted political maneuver at the expense of a looming climate crisis that will weigh heavily on our children’s future. The scant attention to climate change mitigation and adaptation will dent the government’s capacity to deliver these goals. The budget failed health by almost halving climate spending to $1.6 billion, dropping to $1.2 billion by 2020, and by phasing out of the Renewable Energy Target by 2020. This shows there is no commitment in this budget to do anything about curbing emissions beyond this time.

Interim Emissions Reduction Targets for Victoria

DEA is concerned by the outlook for human and planetary health of inadequate control of global warming and climate change. In a submission to the Victorian government on emissions reduction targets, DEA supports the leadership and actions undertaken by Victoria in the absence of genuine action by the Federal Government to meet Australia’s commitments to the Paris Agreement 2015.
Download DEA's submission to the Independent Expert Panel on the Interim Emissions Reduction Targets for Victoria (2021 – 2030).

Pollution from coal-fired power plants should be reviewed: NSW EPA

“The state's five coal-fired power stations are allowed "unnecessary variation" in their pollution and operate "well below" licensed limits, providing scope for more consistent and tighter controls, the Environment Protection Agency has found”.
In other words they pollute and are contributing to ill health and causing deaths! DEA and EJA, named in the article, have been working on this reform for some time and the statement by the EPA is an important step forward; the next step is to have the licensing fee for pollution raised as detailed in DEA submissions to Federal and NSW Parliaments. Read it in the SMH and Brisbane Times.

Why greening healthcare is essential for health

While general practice has a relatively small environmental footprint, its role is important in the broader context of sustainability... Sustainability in health is more than just about “greening” the health sector, although environmental sustainability is an important consideration. A sustainable health and care system needs to be able to go on forever within the limits of financial, social and environmental resources. It needs to deliver high-quality care and improved public health without exhausting natural resources or causing severe ecological damage. Read full article in the Medical Republic or on the DEA website.

French President Emmanuel Macron

Climate change: Australia's position is unconscionable for a wealthy country

"There is no planet B" says President Macron in an electrifying speech to Congress, yet for most of us climate change is of much less concern than the cost of living, taxes, schools and health services. As a slow creeping threat, "unlikely to affect me much anyway", climate change is easy to dismiss and therefore is never high on the election stakes where it is easy for our leaders to say they are doing everything they should — which they are not. Read full article on ABC NEWS online

Tasmanian Times: Doctors alarmed by renewed Tarkine destruction

DEA doctors in Tasmania have been alarmed to see escalated threats to biodiversity with renewed and seemingly accelerated destruction of native forests in the takayna / Tarkine region. DEA has called for a halt in logging. Read more.

Croakey. The National Energy Guarantee and DEA

On April 14, Doctors for the Environment Australia's national conference issued a joint statement to state and territory Energy Ministers from 150 concerned GPs, emergency doctors, public health physicians, paediatricians, physicians, surgeons, medical students and other health specialists. It said: “As doctors, we call on the energy ministers to enact energy policy that protects public health as a matter of priority”. Read on.

The Courier-Mail; Protection of marine ecosystems risks being watered down

At a time when marine ecosystems are under threat from climate change increase in sea water temperature and local pollution, widespread cutbacks to marine sanctuaries are proposed by the Coalition government. Read the article by Katherine Barraclough. This is a further indication of the governments ignorance on the fundamental importance of ecosystems to human existence detailed in a recent DEA submission.

The Guardian; Don't believe the hype on natural gas. It's a fossil fuel just like coal

The scale of the developments in WA is enormous: a recent report states that the total global emissions from all of WA’s gas reserves (conventional and unconventional) is equivalent to 36.4bn tonnes of C02, that is eight times more than the planned Adani coal mine would produce in its lifetime.

Dr Bob Brown - Keynote Address

Watch Dr Bob Brown deliver the keynote address at our recent conference - iDEA18 in Newcastle.

Shouldn't 'planetary health' be our bread and butter as primary care physicians?

The Anthropocene is of great significance to modern medicine. Air pollution, climate change, extreme weather events and food insecurity are now some of human health’s most pressing issues. Most days in my general practice I see a patient whose presentation has some connection to our rapidly changing ecosystem. Read full article in Medical Observer or on the DEA site (read on).

Health, sustainable diet and agriculture - DEA Position Statement

Unhealthy environments, climate change, and poor diet are major contributors to both chronic and acute illnesses. Changes to the way we produce our food, and the type of food we eat, are urgently required for both human and planetary health.
Health, sustainable diet and agriculture Position Statement

Action on Hunter coal mines after years of community dust complaints

In the Hunter region, community action including that of DEA has at last brought action by the state government with night time inspections to curb current dust production during night time mine work when air quality becomes even worse than daytime. Read full article.

The ACCC and Liddell; just opinion and no facts

Mr Vesey of AGL has refused the request from the Federal Government to extend the life of the Liddell power station beyond 5 years. When he said ‘‘Somebody has to be on the bleeding edge, we [AGL] are going to be the biggest emitter (of carbon dioxide] - that means we are going to need to be responsible, and take action”, he was recognising the social licence increasingly necessary for industry and was filling a role abdicated by the federal government. Now read on.

Only one industry is exempt from a NSW scheme to make industry pay for pollution

The answer is COAL! In this Editorial in the Newcastle Herald, DEA is quoted extensively on the pollution from coal fired power stations in NSW and the harm to health that results. The Herald asks why the pollution licencing system suggested by DEA and supported by the NSW EPA has not been implemented.

Greens icon (Bob Brown) says Liddell power station closure a 'watershed moment' for owner AGL

Bob Brown will speak at the iDEA conference on Saturday 14th  in Newcastle and in the Newcastle Herald today he writes about closure of the Liddell power station and the contributions by DEA to the control of pollution from coal fired power stations.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are important

The United Nations sets these goals not just for developing countries but for all countries including Australia. Although Australia has one of the highest life expectancies in the world, our SDG targets, particularly on health and the environment, have slipped 6 places in the last reporting year to 26th place globally. Furthermore, our overseas development aid to help others attain their goals is inadequate. DEA has made a submission to Parliament on SDGs. 

Download DEA's 
submission to the Senate on the Inquiry into the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Power station emissions hit the stratosphere despite government assurances on pollution controls

Dangerous fine particle emissions from Bayswater power station jumped by 69 per cent in 2017, according to new national data showing the Hunter’s biggest air polluters are releasing more toxic emissions than ever before. This Bayswater figure was dwarfed by a 179 per cent jump in PM2.5 fine particle emissions from Vales Point power station. Read DEA’s Ben Ewald’s comment in this article.

The planet’s health is no place for politics, and new laws for Australia might just make it so

The recent proposal from legal experts and the Environmental Alliance for new environmental laws recognises that health and the environment are indivisible. It is now the task of doctors' organisations to develop their input. This is a preventative health issue above all, and needs recognition of common cause between doctors and the environmental movement. This article in Croakey explains how reform of climate change and air pollution policy can begin.

DEA and a new generation of national environmental laws: time to make history in law reform

A delegation of DEA doctors (Ben Ewald, Arnagretta Hunter, Selina Lo) attended the "Better Laws for a Better Planet Symposium" hosted by the Australian Panel of Experts on Environmental Law (APEEL), IUCN Australia Committee, National Environmental Law Association, and Places You Love Alliance, on March 27, in Canberra at University House Hotel.

Coal and Gas Mining News- DEA action in March

The proposed mining of coal in Queensland is a matter of national and international concern, demanding condemnation from Australian leaders at least of the magnitude of that they expended on sandpaper and a cricket ball. On a week that the UK banned development of a coal mine because of greenhouse emissions, Queensland quietly revived the proposal for a vast dormant mine approval at Wilton, North Queensland.

Media release: Health experts call for "Reserve Bank" like authority to reform failing environmental laws

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.

Why Australians need a national environment protection agency to safeguard their health

Australia needs an independent National Environmental Protection Agency to safeguard the environment and deliver effective climate policy, according to a new campaign launched today by a coalition of environmental, legal and medical organisations, including DEA. The initiative was launched today in Canberra and David Shearman has written this article to explain its role.

Read the full article

Your asthma puffer is probably contributing to climate change, but there's a better alternative

The gas norflurane, most often found in asthma metered dose inhalers, is 1,430 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a global warming gas. Another, apaflurane, is 3,220 times more potent. Globally, tens of millions of tons of carbon dioxide equivalent are attributable annually to these inhaler gases.

The burning question for Australia's politicians

Malcolm Turnbull has accused Senator Richard Di Natale of a lack of empathy in making the connection between climate and bushfires following the late season bushfires in Victoria and NSW in recent days, saying now is not the time to “politicise” these terrible events.

After the firestorm: the health implications of returning to a bushfire zone

Australia has a long history of bushfire disasters. The loss of almost 70 homes in Tathra, New South Wales, and 18 homes in southwest Victoria this week has again reminded us of the risks and huge personal costs of living in a fire-prone country. The risk is increasing as fires the world over are expanding in every dimension – in their timing, with extended seasons of favourable fire weather, frequency and severity.

Health warning:  WA fracking could blow away Australia’s carbon budget 

Greenhouse gas emissions from developing WA’s unconventional gas resources will be about three times as much as Australia has agreed to emit under the Paris Agreement, hampering global efforts to contain climate change.

Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracture Stimulation in Western Australia 2017 Submission

A recent statement by the McGowan Labor Government who plan to make WA into a "global LNG hub" is deeply concerning for the control of green house emissions. Furthermore it begs the question whether the recent WA enquiry into the risks from fracking might be used to promote the production of additional (unconventional) gas in the state.

Download the DEA Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracture Stimulation in Western Australia 2017 Submission and media release.

Final Bout; Supreme Court case contesting closure of Acland coal mine starts today

Today, the Supreme court case begins in Queensland with New Hope Coal; contesting the decision of the Land Court and the Queensland government to stop the Acland mine. This legal decision will be vital for future control of coal development. The history of this case is detailed by Queensland EDO below. A search for Acland on the DEA web site will illustrate our huge involvement over 6 years with many submissions, letters to ministers and appearances in Court by our expert witnesses. For the Land Court judgement, see also https://www.dea.org.au/reneweconomy-revelations-from-the-new-acland-coal-mine-case/

Australia’s Strategy for Nature 2018-2030: Australia’s biodiversity conservation strategy and action inventory submission

The Federal Government has produced a biodiversity conservation strategy paper which is deeply flawed in its assessments and fails to understand the urgency for action. In response, DEA has written a submission which demands action. The government has no recognition of climate change as a causative factor in biodiversity loss or of the health effects this will have.

Download DEA's submission on 
Australia’s Strategy for Nature 2018-2030: Australia’s biodiversity conservation strategy and action inventory.

Independent Australia: Health implications of Coalition's energy policy

The National Energy Guarantee (NEG) and Turnbull Government's current energy policy have significant adverse health implications, causing deaths and illness, in Australia and globally. Health is totally ignored in their deliberations.

Submission to the Energy Security Board National Energy Guarantee - Consultation Paper

The consultation paper is fundamentally flawed in failing to include health considerations from air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions which have considerable costs to human health and the nation.
Read more:

Fortunately there will be no more emissions from this car! Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster (Image by SpaceX via Wikimedia Commons)

Better fuel for cleaner air draft regulation impact statement

Australia’s fuel standards for vehicles are the lowest of the countries comprising the OECD and amongst the lowest in the G20. They cause ill health and deaths from air pollution and also contribute  a large and growing proportion of our greenhouse emissions. There has to be reform. 
Read DEA's recommendations to the Ministerial Forum on Vehicle Emissions on the Better fuel for cleaner air draft regulation impact statement.

DEA Policy: Action on Climate Change and Health; Governance and Strategy

To address the health impacts of climate change - the greatest global health threat of the 21st century - national leadership and reform of governance are urgently needed.

ABC 4Corners: While politicians question the reality of climate change, farmers and businesses act

On Monday evening ABC’s 4 Corners aired an episode ‘Weather Alert’ looking at how Australia’s changing climate is impacting people.  Mounting evidence suggests our changing climate is having an impact on everything - from what we grow, eat and drink, to house prices and the cost of insurance. Doctors for the Environment Australia provided the health segment for rising temperatures also have a significant, often ignored, impact on health.

Business and Climate Change; Managing The Risks

Business is rapidly recognising their enterprises are increasing its interaction with business and commerce whenever possible.

The Mercury: State climate policy has stagnated in Tasmania in the last four years

We have a chance to shape Tasmanians' future health by demanding government takes climate change seriously. Rohan Church is a Launceston doctor and Chair of the Tasmanian branch of Doctors for the Environment Australia.

Newcastle Herald: After years of complaints about air quality, Tighes Hill residents believe they’ve been heard

Doctors for the Environment Australia  has endorsed the Tighes Hill community’s  overwhelming support for the closure of Carrington coal terminal and concentrating all coal exports on Kooragang Island, which was further away from residential areas. 

Newcastle Herald: Renewed calls for industry to pay for the true health costs of coal

DEA joins environment groups to step up a campaign for a comprehensive study of Hunter air quality health impacts after local evidence has supported overseas research linking power station emissions and pre-term births.

Reform of National Environmental Laws; light amongst the darkness

This is a developing issue of great importance. Many DEA members would have seen a leak to The Guardian; we await the definitive proposals from the Environmental Alliance. Their proposal arises from a recent report from a large group of distinguished environmental lawyers. The main aim is to provide a secure basis for a National Environmental Protection Authority, rather like the USEPA but secure against Trump-like demolition. With political games on environment, climate and health policy in Australia for 20 years, a secure Authority is seen as vital. I suggest all members read the long list of recommendations from APEEL.

The Age: Health Minister promises answers on health of Latrobe Valley babies

A higher than average incidence of health issues in the Latrobe Valley has promoted the state government to look into the impacts of toxic emissions from the region's three power plants. Poor air quality caused by blasting, dust and transportation of coal is having a marked impact on residents in the area, with low birthweights being nearly two percent higher than the national average.

Response to The Australian’s article on Latrobe Valley pollution

Doctors for the Environment Australia recently wrote a submission to the Victorian EPA pointing out the link between air pollution exposure and the risk of low birth weight which has been called alarmist. We would call it alarmingly realistic. 

SA Health on the Review of the State Public Health Plan - South Australia: A Better Place to Live

In this submission DEA analyses the current SA public health plan in the light of our submission; South Australia: A Better Place to Live 2013.
We conclude it is necessary to show more urgency in climate change mitigation, to bring climate change into all policies and to work for national coordination through the development of a National Environmental Protection Agency.

The Age: Environment watchdog could slap tougher emissions caps on power plants

In welcome news, Victoria’s environmental watchdog is reviewing the licences of the state’s three remaining coal-fired power plants which supply about 80% of the state’s power. 

Newcastle Herald Editorial: Health figures show disturbing trends on Upper Hunter air quality

Figures produced by Doctors for the Environment Australia at a recent Planning Assessment Commission hearing into a coal mine expansion in the Hunter have attracted intense community and media attention, including an editorial in the Newcastle Herald which posed the question:  How much data is needed to get action?