Health groups want action on climate

Colin Brinsden
·1-min read

A coalition of 29 health groups have issued an open letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison calling for the same level of urgency in tackling climate change as the COVID-19 pandemic.

The groups include Climate and Health Alliance, Public Health Association of Australia and Australian Epidemiological Association.

They warn climate change is accelerating and if the current trajectory continues unchecked, Australia faces "existential threats to humanity".

"To avoid further health and environmental disasters, governments must take heed of the science, listen to health experts and act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the natural environment," the groups say.

Climate and Health Alliance executive director Fiona Armstrong said there can be no recovery with gas, the government's preferred measure to tackle emissions.

"The latest evidence suggests gas is just as emissions-intensive as coal," she said in a statement.

"Backing gas and fossil fuels will only accelerate the climate health emergency, further putting at risk the health of all Australians."

Public Health Association of Australia chief executive Terry Slevin said the impacts of COVID-19 had been severe and wide-reaching.

"Yet climate change is something which poses just as significant, if not a greater, challenge in terms of the impacts on human health, societies and economies," Mr Slevin said.

"We are already witnessing the public health impacts of climate change - through bushfires and smoke, through heatwaves, through communities devastated by drought."

Tackling climate change came back to the fore in the past week after US President-elect Joe Biden committed to returning his country to the Paris Agreement.