Doctors declare climate change ’emergency’

Picture: File image
Picture: File image

AUSTRALIA’S top medical body has declared climate change a health emergency.

The Australian Medical Association has warned climate change could have severe health consequences for vulnerable people in Australia and the Pacific.

“These effects are already being observed internationally and in Australia. There is no doubt that climate change is a health emergency,” association president Tony Bartone said on Tuesday.

“The association accepts the scientific evidence on climate change and its impact on human health and human wellbeing.”

Dr Bartone said climate change could increase the spread of infectious diseases and see higher mortality from heat stress.

He said it would also see more injuries and deaths from severe weather events, declines in agricultural output leading to food insecurity, and higher rates of mental ill-health.

Doctors are calling on the federal government to adopt several measures, including mitigation targets on carbon, and policies that promote transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

The association also wants the government to promote the health benefits of addressing climate change, and establish a body to reduce carbon emissions in the healthcare sector.

It estimates heat stress carries a $616 loss in productivity for every employed Australian, with significant links between exposure to high temperatures and death rates in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

The association has also pointed to a 13.7 per cent increase in dengue-carrying mosquitoes transmitting the disease to people in Australia between 1950 and 2016.

Its American and British counterparts made similar declarations earlier this year.

Tuesday’s announcement comes at the same time as the health sector’s industry super fund HESTA said it was the first Australian super fund to be certified carbon neutral.

Australian tech company Atlassian is also encouraging its employees to strike on September 20, in line with the planned School Strike 4 Climate action.

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