Doctors urge speedy transition to clean energy for the health of all Australians

Doctors for the Environment

Doctors are strongly urging the Federal and State Governments to get behind renewable energy such as wind and solar, as clean energy will save lives and improve the health of all Australians.

Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA), which represents medical doctors and students across Australia, is making the call ahead of an anti-renewable rally at Parliament House in Canberra on the first Parliamentary sitting day on Tuesday 6 Feb 2024.

Getting out of dirty unhealthy fossil fuels, like coal and gas, will improve health outcomes for Australians, by limiting global heating and reducing air pollution.

Says DEA’s spokesperson, Dr Ben Ewald, “We must replace coal with clean renewable solar and wind energy.

“Phasing out coal is the single-most important thing that we can do to limit climate change, which is driving hotter and more prolonged heatwaves and devastating wild weather that we are seeing in large parts of Australia.

“The burning of fossil fuels is also causing air pollution with multiple detrimental health impacts, including heart and lung conditions and some cancers.”

DEA supports renewables for the following reasons:

Global heating is a direct threat to human health through the lethal effect of heat waves, extreme weather, and disruption of stable ecosystems. Limiting global heating is preventative health care at the most fundamental level.

The main driver of global heating is the burning of fossil fuels, and in Australia the biggest user of fossil fuels is electricity generation. Coal burning causes additional harm to human health due to the air pollution released.

The threat to human health from burning fossil fuels is occurring now and will become more urgent over time. We do not as a country have the luxury of waiting to see what other generation technology might be developed in coming decades. Large-scale construction of wind and solar generation is required now, and might be supplemented in future with other zero-carbon technologies.

Failure to rapidly build sufficient renewable energy will commit Australia to a future with more expensive and less reliable electricity. Affordable and reliable energy is a prerequisite for running the health services in which our members work.

Currently Australia’s fleet of coal generators are nearing retirement age, and most will be gone by the end of the decade. The economics of electricity generation have changed so that wind and solar now deliver the cheapest energy, even with firming and distribution costs included.

The health of people in rural areas will be enhanced by the economic security of jobs in renewable energy, and the diversity of farm income for farmers hosting energy projects or transmission lines. This will reduce the number of people with mental health problems due to financial stress during droughts and other adverse weather events.

There is strong scientific evidence that exposure to low-frequency sound from wind farms does not cause adverse health effects such as the fictitious wind farm syndrome.

About DEA

Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) is an organisation of medical professionals that protects human health through care of the environment. The devastating impacts of climate change on human health and the solutions needed to address this grave threat are a major focus of our work.

Our members are GPs, surgeons, physicians, anaesthetists, psychiatrists, paediatricians, public health specialists, academics, medical students and researchers, bringing leadership and expertise from every branch of medicine.

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