Today we are calling on the Morrison Government to add climate change as a National Health Priority Area.
Australia's National Health Priority Areas are agreed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council, and focus attention on particular conditions and diseases because of their significant contribution to the burden of illness and injury in the Australian community.
It is right and proper that climate change is recognised as a significant contributor to the burden of illness and injury in Australia.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that between 2030 and 2050, 250,000 people a year will die globally as a direct result of a warming planet, and four years ago described climate change to be “greatest threat to global health in the twenty first century”.
These calls were echoed in Australia in August this year when the Australian Medical Association formally recognised climate change as a health emergency.
It is past time for the Morrison Government to recognise climate change as a health emergency.
Only last week, Associate Professor Paul Beggs of Macquarie University’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences wrote “As a direct result of this (Government’s) failure, we conclude that Australia remains at significant risk of declines in health due to climate change, and that substantial and sustained national action is urgently required in order to prevent this … This work is urgent.”
Treating climate change as a National Health Priority Area will raise awareness of the importance of the challenge of climate change health and set out a road map for dealing with it.
Labor took a plan to the election to develop Australia’s first National Framework on Climate Change and Health.
Labor remains committed to acting on the urgency of climate change and health and will propose climate change as a National Health Priority Area if this Government fails to act.
But today we urge the Government to get on with the job and add climate change as a National Health Priority Area.