A letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, signed by groups representing more than 75 percent of the nation’s doctors, is urging the Federal Government to better protect Australians’ health, by acting on climate change as part of its COVID-19 economic recovery.
Coordinated by Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA), the signatories, including the Australian Medical Association, represent 90,000 of the nation’s GPs, emergency room doctors, physicians, obstetricians, psychiatrists and other disciplines – many of whom are on the COVID-19 frontline.
“Right now, we have an incredible opportunity to act on climate change and invest in a cleaner, healthier, and more prosperous future,” said Climate Councillor and public health physician, Dr Kate Charlesworth.
“That future should not include gas. Gas is a fossil fuel causing climate change, and driving the kind of bushfires we saw decimate so much of Australia during the recent Black Summer,” said Dr Charlesworth, who is a DEA member.
“Putting fossil fuels at the forefront of Australia’s economic recovery is like including tobacco in an anti-smoking policy. It is unsafe and irresponsible,” she said.
“The Federal Government is failing to protect us, which is why so many doctors from around the country, including myself, are coming together on behalf of the Australian public,” she said.
The letter argues that the world is in the middle of two global health emergencies: the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, and is calling for a whole-of-government approach towards addressing climate change, which like the coronavirus, has potentially catastrophic health impacts.
“Climate change is here, it is threatening our health, and as we saw last summer, our lives and the lives of our loved ones,” said Climate Council head of research, Dr Martin Rice.
“At least 450 people tragically lost their lives as a result of the climate changed fuelled bushfires and smoke over the Black Summer,” he said.
“The Climate Council welcomes this letter to the Prime Minister, which comes after new economic modelling found that 76,000 jobs can be created across Australia, rapidly getting people back into the workforce while also tackling climate change,” said Dr Rice.
“The Clean Jobs Plan identifies a dozen policy options which can create jobs fast, where they are needed and for people who need them most,” he said.
“This is the healthy recovery the Federal Government should be focusing on: a plan to create clean jobs; build a resilient economy; and keep people safe,” said Dr Rice.
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