Stronger emissions target needed to protect health

Doctors support the Climate Change Authority’s call for a more ambitious emission reduction target.

The Climate Change Authority (CCA) has called for Australia to do more to limit dangerous climate change by lifting its emission reduction target. The CCA says Australia’s greenhouse gas emission reduction target of 5 per cent this decade is not going to meet our share of global targets and should be increased to at least 15 per cent.

Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) is concerned for people’s health in a changing climate, which will bring more extreme weather events and will threaten health and livelihoods. It urges that Australia takes effective action to avert these risks by setting a 25 per cent reduction in emissions by 2020.

While the majority of developed economies in the world are ramping up their targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Australia is scaling down, with plans to abolish a price on carbon and by abolishing climate and clean energy bodies. Spokesperson for DEA, Dr Shearman said, ‘As one the highest per capita emitters of greenhouse gases, and one of the wealthiest countries in the world, we should be leading by example.’

DEA believes the increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather events is already costing Australia dearly in health, social and economic losses. For example, we have already seen increased deaths and demands on the hospital system during the recent heatwave and bushfires in Victoria, and know that deaths and illness increase in Sydney on days of extensive smoke from fires. Increasing health problems also leads to increasing costs for our healthcare system.

Dr Shearman said today, ‘Climate change is a serious threat to our health, with the elderly, indigenous communities, the very young, and those with pre-existing medical conditions such as lung and heart disease, being particularly vulnerable.’

The good news is that frequently reducing greenhouse gas emissions from air pollution also reduces harmful particles and gases that affect people’s health and contribute to asthma and heart disease. So reducing emissions provides a double win for health.

‘The human face of climate change is its cost to our health and quality of life. To protect our health, we need to do our fair share of protecting our climate.’ Dr Shearman said.

More information:

DEA submission on targets: http://dea.org.au/images/uploads/submissions/Caps_and_Targets_Review_Submission_05-13.pdf

DEA submission on extreme weather events:

http://dea.org.au/images/uploads/submissions/Extreme_Weather_Events_Submission_01-13.pdf

 

Media contact: Dr David Shearman T: 08 83393972

 

Doctors for the Environment Australia, 67 Payneham Road COLLEGE PARK SA 5069M: 0422 974 857 E: admin@dea.org.au W: dea.org.au

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