Doctors warn of health hazards resulting from unambitious renewable energy targets.
Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) is disappointed with the Federal Government’s Review of Renewable Energy Targets (RET) released today.
‘The decision not to increase renewable energy targets is a failure of ambition and leadership,’ said DEA spokesperson, Professor David Shearman.
‘Climate change is a health issue that requires urgent action.’
‘Recent evidence shows that climate change is accelerating. Australia has both the ability and responsibility to do more,’ he said
The World Health Organisation estimates that deaths due to climate change are rising rapidly. Heavy reliance on fossil fuels makes Australia the world’s greatest emitter of greenhouse gases per capita.
‘Our contribution to the world’s greenhouse emissions is causing more extreme weather events and more deaths from flood, fire and heat waves – both in Australia and throughout the world,’ Prof Shearman said.
The direct effects of pollution on human health also concerns DEA.
‘Pollution from coal mining and coal-fired power stations causes disease of the heart and lungs in many Australians and this makes coal an expensive energy source when all health costs are included.
‘An increase in healthy renewable energy would reduce these diseases.
‘Australia’s coal is contributing to pollution not just in Australia, but around the world,’ Prof Shearman said.
DEA believes a more ambitious renewable energy target would enable faster replacement of fossil fuels with energy from renewable sources – and this would result in reduced harm to human health.
‘Developing more renewable energy from source such as wind wave and sun and should be regarded as a key preventative health strategy,’ said Prof Shearman.
DEA believes it is in Australia’s interest to do better in implementing renewable energy.
‘We are failing particularly to deliver renewable energy in communities such as Port Augusta, which is crying out for clean energy to replace dirty fossil fuels,’ Prof Shearman said.
Doctors have prescribed solar thermal treatment for illness in Port Augusta. (source: Illness & pollution at Port Augusta)
In its submission to the Climate change Authority earlier this year, DEA asserted that ‘the emphasis in this review should not be solely on confirming the 20 per cent target but on the fact that the government plan was designed to deliver at least 20 per cent by 2020.’ (Source DEA Submission on RET)
DEA believes the unambitious RET announced today will also prove to be an economic failure because sustainable, clean energy will be the basis of future competitive economies – and that Australia is falling behind its competitors.