As trusted voices, doctors and others in the health sector, who are on the frontline of care, have a role in influencing policy in decarbonisation: The health of our patients, our communities and our families is being destabilised by climate change.
This week, I participated in a delegation led by Solutions For Climate Australia to Canberra on strengthening the safeguard mechanism that’s currently being debated in Parliament.
We had meetings with 18 MPs and Senators and several more policy advisors (including from Minister Chris Bowen’s office). My meeting with the member for Fremantle, Josh Wilson MP, resulted in this short statement to the Parliament.
In a nutshell, Josh Wilson MP spoke of his meeting with DEA members and acknowledged the impacts of climate change on human health are ‘yet not a large part of the conversation’ and that it is vital to reduce emissions in Australia.
The latest paper in the Medical Journal of Australia in fact shows that Australia lags, ranking 59/64 in the Climate Change Performance Index, with its political engagement on health and climate change particularly poor.
Importantly, the MJA paper highlights that climate change and health issues have been siloed and disconnected at a national level with the crossbench pushing the agenda. Furthermore, it highlights the role of vested corporate interests and political ideologies in influencing policy.
While there are signs of improvement, with climate change being present in the National Preventative Health Strategy 2021-2030 and the new federal government committing to the development of a National Health and Climate Strategy, much more needs to be done.
From a climate and health perspective, the current reforms to the government’s safeguard mechanism provide a regulatory framework to reduce carbon pollution and are part of public health policy.
DEA calls for a strong safeguard mechanism to protect health. You can support our advocacy by emailing Chris Bowen, Minister for climate change and energy via this link.
Dr Richard Yin,
DEA Deputy Chair