Australian news, and some related international items

Fiona Stanley’s survey on political parties’ response to climate change

Climate-Report-CardThe climate change letter most candidates won’t answer Canberra Times, June 29 2016 Fiona Stanley I recently wrote to more than 1000 candidates in the federal election. I described how climate change is a real and growing threat requiring urgent attention, and that health professionals are seeing its impacts in medical practice right now and will be increasingly in the future.

The results distressed me. More than 100 independent candidates and those from virtually all minor parties and Greens responded to me with comments that were often constructive and extensive. There was only one individual response from a Labor Party candidate, and a courteous response from Labor campaign headquarters detailing official Labor policy. No Liberal Party candidate acknowledged my letter and there was no official response.

Doctors’ organisations such as Doctors for the Environment Australia, the AMA and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians are pleading for action on climate change, yet our governments are ignoring their advice.

Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organisation, explained why we need our political leaders to act when she addressed the 69th World Health Assembly last month:…….

To bring about the urgent reduction of dangerous greenhouse emissions, in my letter to candidates I asked them to support:

1. The NO case for new coalmines or mine expansions.

If global warming is to stay below the 2 degrees Celsius target agreed by policy makers, a third of oil reserves, half of gas reserves and more than 80 per cent of current coal reserves globally need to stay in the ground. Yet in Australia more coal is being burned, causing a 6 per cent increase in our emissions.

Furthermore, in Australia this year air pollution from burning coal will contribute to 3000 deaths (double the road toll), and significant illness from heart and lung disease.

2. The removal of tax rebates of more than $7 billion a year to the fossil fuel industry. 

In my view this is like subsidising tobacco. It would be unconscionable for either party to give subsidies to the tobacco industry. The same must apply to fossil fuels.

The direct health, social and environmental costs of coal are considerable and not included in the market cost of coal. As one example, the large power stations in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley cost between $500 million to $1.2 billion each in health and environmental damage every year.

3. The transition to renewable energy.

Currently in Australia renewable energy creation is stagnating. We have the ability to lead the world in the transition from the health hazards of air polluting coal to healthy renewable energy, which is fast becoming a cost-effective option.

Like many parents and grandparents today, I want to help shape a future in which the next generation can flourish. However, I now consider that we are moving to a world that I would not wish future generations to live in.

Without robust action, future generations can expect deadly heatwaves, fires, floods, sea level rises, fields that no longer grow food, abandoned towns, conflict, displaced people, and diseases.

We must all stand together and call our political leaders to account. Action on climate is our insurance policy against an uncertain future.

Professor Fiona Stanley is a former Australian of the year, a distinguished research professor at The University of Western Australia, vice-chancellor’s fellow at The University of Melbourne and a member of Doctors for the Environment Australia.



July 1, 2016 - Posted by | climate change - global warming, election 2016

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: