Urgent climate action will reduce lost lives: new report


Released 30/11/2018 - Joint media release

A new report from the Medical Journal of Australia in collaboration with renowned medical Journal The Lancet has highlighted the link between climate change and health, reinforcing the need to take climate action, and declaring that policy inaction on climate change is threatening Australian lives.

The Australian MJA-Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change will be formally launched today by Minister Health and Wellbeing Minister Meegan Fitzharris and Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability Shane Rattenbury.

The Australian Countdown Report, a collaboration with the global countdown report published by the Lancet, was developed by 19 leading Australian scientists from 13 universities and research institutes. It is the first national report of its kind and tracks progress on health and climate change in all states and territories.

“This landmark report highlights the significant serious impacts that climate change is having, and will continue to have, on the health of ACT residents, and all Australians,” said Minister Rattenbury.

“It’s yet another warning that we must take urgent action to mitigate and adapt to climate change. The warning in this report, from leading academics and scientists from around the world, is clear: Policy inaction on climate change threatens Australian lives. If we want good health outcomes in Australia, then we need to address climate change.”

Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Meegan Fitzharris, said there are clear links between the impacts of climate change and health outcomes for ACT residents.

“The report shows that human health in Australia is highly vulnerable to climate change across a wide range of areas.

“Climate change is causing direct health impacts, such as heat related illnesses and respiratory issues related to thunderstorms (as tragically demonstrated in Melbourne in November 2016), as well as indirect impacts, such as a nutritional deficits caused by food insecurity and increased food prices.

“The report also shows that climate change negatively affects mental health, with people’s mental wellbeing particularly affected by temperature extremes.

“Climate change is inextricably linked to all areas of human life, including health. We must address the climate challenge to ensure safe, healthy and secure lives for generations to come.”

Professor of Climate Change and Mental Health at the University of Sydney, Helen Berry, said that “Australia has fallen well behind other wealthy countries in taking action on climate change and there is so more much that we can and must do. Ultimately, it will save us money as well as lives.

“Right now, Queensland is reeling from devastating unseasonable fires while Sydney mops up after getting a whole month’s rain in two hours. Continuing to ignore scientists’ warnings makes no sense in a country which is so wealthy and intellectually rich, yet so vulnerable to climate change.”

“It’s important to remember that adapting to climate change can deliver all sorts of incidental benefits for health. Policies in a couple of jurisdictions, including the ACT, are starting to recognise these,” added Associate Professor Paul Beggs, one of the national report’s lead authors.

- Statement ends -

Section: Meegan Fitzharris, MLA | Media Releases

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