Climate emergency must not be ignored

15 Jul 2021

The Australian Government can no longer afford to ignore the climate emergency.

The AMA is extremely disappointed the majority report of the Parliament’s Standing Committee on Environment and Energy has recommended against passing proposed climate change bills. The majority of the Standing Committee stated Australia’s current approach to reducing emissions is adequate.

The proposed legislation, introduced to the House of Representatives last year by Independent MP Zali Steggall, outline a sensible and well-structured response to the existential threat posed by climate change and include a clear plan for reaching net zero emissions by 2050.

The bills also include provisions for the establishment of an independent Climate Change Commission; a National Climate Risk Assessment; a National Adaptation Program and a net-zero target by 2050.

The AMA supports the climate change bills, based on the evidence that emissions need to reach net zero by at least 2050 to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change special report Global Warming of 1.5 ºC  outlines the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. These impacts include higher deaths from extreme heat, a wider spread of vector-borne disease, and increased mortality from poor air quality.

AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid said, “Climate change is predicted to cause increases in food and water borne disease, airborne allergens, respiratory illnesses and mental ill-health.”

There is growing global momentum towards net zero emission targets.

"The AMA is deeply concerned that without a plan, Australia will be left behind. A number of global scorecards have now put Australia at the bottom of their lists regarding climate action and responsibility,” Dr Khorshid said.

“The committee’s report has ignored the wide community support for stronger action on climate change and does not reflect the urgent health and environmental imperatives.

“Australians are now experiencing the consequences of climate change. For example, the horrific bushfire season of 2019-20 and the intense and prolonged exposure to bushfire smoke.

“Australians deserve and need a better and more ambitious commitment than the one currently on offer. The AMA would like to see these bills debated in parliament and passed into law,” Dr Khorshid said. See AMA’s media release here.