The UN COP26 conference represented the most important climate event of our time. What are the take-aways?
Doctors for the Environment Australia Chair Dr John Van Der Kallen says:
It is encouraging to see the world come together on the methane pledge, the pledge to stop deforestation by 2030, the acknowledgement that fossil fuels are the main drivers of climate change and need to be reduced, the need to support developing countries to adapt to the challenges, and critically on the urgency of cutting our emissions by 45% by 2030 if we are going to keep temperatures to 1.5C.
Unfortunately, with current commitments the world temperatures will rise 1.8-2.6C. While it will be challenging for the global community to keep 1.5C alive, there is a chance we can do so if we all work together and do our fair share of the heavy lifting.
Alarmingly, the Australian government is not playing its part. While 140 countries lifted their targets to reduce emissions, our country did not.
Australia is becoming isolated on the world stage. It is clear that we would rather expand the fossil fuel industry than make a genuine effort to reduce our emissions and protect Australians from the impacts of climate change. This has been reflected in the recent “Net Zero plan” which shows that Australia will continue to emit in the order of 215Mt CO2 by 2050.
Australia can and must do better.
We have the natural resources and the necessary technology and know-how to renew our energy systems and re-vitalise the economy than any other country in the world. Doing so, will strengthen our communities, make our economy more prosperous and improve our health. Investment in the regions will provide jobs and increase the resilience of communities.
DEA is committed to using the trusted voices of doctors to connect the dots between climate change and its impacts on our health and take a lead on raising Australia’s ambition.
During the recent major UN climate conference in Glasgow (COP26), DEA used every disappointing announcement by our federal government to bring attention to the urgent need for climate action. We spoke at public events, we commented in the media and we called for action on social media.
As the federal election looms closer- and there are signs that Prime Minister Scott Morrison is now switching to campaign mode- we’ll be doubling our efforts to ensure that climate action is the key issue for all political parties, so that we go to the next COP meeting with sound plans for more ambition and a roadmap of how we achieve this.
DEA will be stepping up and our members will be working with the community to ensure all political candidates understand that in the interest of our health, we are depending on them to act on climate change and to ensure that this is a key election issue.
The key electorates we will be focusing on are in NSW, WA, Victoria and QLD.
We are demanding action from the federal government to address climate change by:
- Adopting an ambitious national plan to cut climate pollution this decade to protect health, with strong, science-based targets that at minimum match our key allies and trading partners.
- Significantly increasing our emissions target- Australia’s Nationally Determined Contribution- in line with the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5 C.
- Adopting a Climate Change Bill.
- Establishing a national Sustainable Healthcare Unit to support environmentally sustainable practice in healthcare and reduce the sector’s own significant emissions.
Much of our work is focused on Wentworth (NSW), Curtin (WA), Higgins (Victoria), Leichardt (QLD) and hopefully soon in Boothby (SA).
ACF Perth Community Group and DEA WA hosted Climate Solutions: A Health Forum and E-Vehicle Expo on Sunday 24 October in the electorate of Curtain.
The event presented the latest science on fossil fuel emissions’ impact on the environment, up-to-date medical information on the effects of climate change on our health, plus practical actions to take.
It was a day for the whole family, with expert presentations, outdoor stalls and displays, e-vehicle demonstrations, special children’s activities and refreshment stalls selling healthy food and drinks.
Participants completed hundreds of postcards for Ms Celia Hammond MP to deliver to Scott Morrison, with a thousand expected to be delivered to her after COP26.
Two presentations highlighted The environmental impact of fossil fuels and electric vehicle technologies & Climate change and healthy resilient communities, challenges and opportunities.
Sincere thanks to the many doctors involved with this hugely successful event. In particular to Dr Richard Yin and to ACF Community Perth for bringing it all together, presenters Dr Chris Curry, Professor Thomas Braunl, Dr George Crisp, Professor Ray Wills, as well as, Ms Jasmine Kieft for providing inspiration and hope, along with Dr Asha Juniper & Dr Louisa Frew for ensuring the event was child-friendly.
New South Wales
In the electorate of Wentworth, Dr Ivan Parise (RACGP), Dr Michael Bonning (Chair of AMA NSW), Dr Cybele Dey and Professor Lynne Madden spoke about the need for our political leaders to address the climate change health crisis, and for the medical profession to step up.
In the Australian medical community, there is broad consensus that more must be done by all levels of government to address the climate crisis, and that doctors have a major role to play.
View the meeting recording here.
A Town Hall meeting will also be occurring within Wentworth, as soon as we know who all the political candidates are. Stay tuned!
In Higgins, DEA will be holding a community Town Hall meeting on 17 November at 7:45-9pm AEDT.
Dr Roderick McRae (President AMA Victoria), Prof Peter Brooks AM (Rheumatologist, DEA), Dr Catherine Pendrey (General Practitioner, DEA) will raise their concerns about the health impacts of climate change.
Dr Katie Allen MP (Member for Higgins), Dr Michelle Ananda-Rajah (ALP candidate for Higgins) and Sonya Semmens (Greens candidate for Higgins) will discuss how they will respond to this public challenge.
Get your ticket here.
GP Dr Nicole Sleeman is leading the charge in her electorate of Leichhardt, QLD, where she has met with her Member of Parliament Warren Entsch, and has been on multiple radio interviews in the lead up to COP26.
What you can do
Please back our doctors in the interest of health, and let your member of Parliament know that you too want ambitious climate action this decade in the interest of health.
Find your federal MP here: Find my electorate (aec.gov.au)
Join the Together We Can campaign along with other Australians, groups and businesses from all over the country who want more action to address climate change.