Climate inaction harming Australians’ health, experts warn

December 3, 2020

A COALITION of medical experts has warned that the Australian Government’s  failure to tackle the health impact of climate change is putting lives at risk, following  the release of the 2020 MJA-Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change. 

The report found that Australians’ exposure to bushfires and heatwaves is mounting;  that the Black Summer bushfires had severe physical and mental health consequences; and that Australia has no national plan to tackle the health impacts of  climate change, lagging behind many comparable countries.

In response, the Medical Journal of Australia, The Lancet Countdown, the Australian  Medical Association (AMA), the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP),  and the Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) have called for a suite of  policy measures to help safeguard Australians’ health from climate impacts. 

“Australians are already suffering the deadly health impacts of climate change, and  the Australian government is exposing them to further harm by failing to address  climate change,” said Associate Professor Ying Zhang, Co-Chair of the MJA-Lancet  Countdown.

“The Federal Government is lagging behind Australian states and territories as well  as the international community when it comes to addressing climate change and its  health impacts. 

“Fortunately, measures that cut carbon emissions also have broader public health  benefits,” said Associate Professor Zhang. “For example, better active transport  infrastructure could improve Australians’ health by reducing air pollution and  encouraging more physical activity.” 

The Countdown, along with the AMA, RACP and AMSA, has called for urgent policy  reform in response to its findings. 

Key policy recommendations from the coalition include developing a national climate  change and health strategy, supporting communities vulnerable to climate disasters,  and accelerating Australia’s transition to renewable energy. 

This is a joint media release from the MJA, Lancet Countdown, RACP, AMA and AMSA.

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