This submission of June 2015 updates and should be read in conjunction with our prior submissions, which are available at http://dea.org.au/images/uploads/submissions/Mount_Thorley_Continuation_Project_Submission_08-14.pdf and http://dea.org.au/images/uploads/submissions/Warkworth_Continuation_Project_Submission_08-14.pdf. In addition to the written submissions (above) by Doctors for the Environment Australia, and expert evidence presented by Dr Ben Ewald at the Singleton hearings, we have identified significant errors and weaknesses in the PAC recommendations.......
Stationary energy, as a sector, is the single largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions globally and in Australia. Therefore replacing carbon intensive energy generation with low carbon alternatives will be essential in limiting greenhouse gas emissions and their consequent health impacts. Wind and solar electricity generation technologies are currently the primary, and probably only, scalable technologies that can be deployed economically in the required time frame. Preventing the worst and potentially unmanageable health impacts of climate change, and in particular achieving the target of limiting global surface temperature rise to 2°C is dependent of the large-scale development of renewable energy, of which onshore wind generation is the cheapest option.
Contamination of the air we breathe is a special case of environmental exposure. Although the individual risk from air pollution is very low, exposure is ubiquitous and across the entire population so the low individual risk multiplies to a large public health problem. The scientific understanding of these risks has developed greatly in the last ten years. Exposures that were previously thought to be insignificant are now recognised as damaging to health and the range of disease outcomes attributed to air pollution is expanding.
It is important for the government to recognise that its statements on climate change are eagerly scrutinised by a world readership which is greatly concerned by the threats to humanity imposed by climate change. DEA wishes to point out the need for a radical reduction in emissions to address the serious consequences that will otherwise arise. These consequences are barely mentioned in the Issues Paper and of particular concern to us is the failure to deal with health consequences anywhere in the document.
The Environmental Impact Assessment process incorporates this Health Impact Assessment which includes all aspects of community health, including social and mental health aspects and social disruption. All these processes are intended to look at the balance of positive and negative impacts of the development upon which informed decisions can be made. DEA uses its expertise to determine whether these health obligations have been carried out. We have assessed whether the Queensland government has carried out these obligations in relation to resource developments.
Submission to the Climate Change Authority on the future remission targets Australia should commit to as part of an effective and equitable global effort to achieve the objective of the UNFCCC (Article 2) or subsequent agreement to which Australia is a party. Doctors for the Environment Australia recommends that Australia commit to a reduction target on 2020 levels of at least 40% by 2025 and 95% by 2050. These targets are based on the severe consequences for human health and well being if global warming is not confined to two degrees. Since the constraint of emissions will have many health co-benefits and therefore cost savings, there will be some reduction in the costs of mitigation and adaptation.
Members of DEA are deeply concerned by the serious threats posed to health by fracture stimulation (fracking) for unconventional (whether coal seam, shale, or tight) gas in the South East of South Australia.
DEA notes that this review process came about through the expression of significant concern about the potential for exploration and mining for unconventional gas deposits (including coal seam gas) by landholders, communities, businesses and health bodies in the lead-up to the 2014 Tasmanian state election.
DEA notes that the AAQ NEPM is not enforceable by the federal government, so even if it includes standards and goals that correctly reflect current scientific thinking on the health effects of air pollution it is not a strong mechanism for ensuring that the Australian population is protected from health impacts.
Of the many pending approvals of new mines in NSW, DEA made submissions on these interrelated mines for two reasons. Firstly, because of the potential health impacts; the extension of the Warkworth Mine brings mining operations and pollution closer to the village of Bulga and the related Mt Thorley Mine extension contributes to significantly longer operations at the site.
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