Climate change report highlights risk to health of Australians

12 Aug 2021

The AMA is alarmed at the IPCC’s latest findings on dangerously rising global temperatures and is warning government inaction on climate change risks the health of Australians. 

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid has called for the government to listen to and act on the scientific findings of climate experts, as it has relied on medical experts to respond to COVID-19.   

The IPCC’s Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis, provides new estimates of the chances of crossing the global warming level of 1.5°C in the next decade. It finds that unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5°C or even 2°C will be beyond reach. 

“The IPCC has sounded the alarm on rising global temperatures and ignoring the clear evidence of rapid increases in global temperatures will ultimately affect the health and wellbeing of Australians,” Dr Khorshid said. 

“Climate change is a health emergency and as we have seen with the COVID emergency, the best way to deal with it is to listen to the science and act on the evidence and advice of the experts. 

“Doctors are frustrated by the slow pace of the Australian Government’s response to climate change, and while it has relied on science to direct its policy responses during the pandemic, it’s reluctant to embrace the science on climate change. It’s clear we need a more ambitious response, including significant emissions reductions efforts.” 

Dr Khorshid highlighted that during the Australian black summer bushfires, there were deaths, injuries, respiratory problems, increased stress and anxiety within the community. Climate change can also cause increases in extreme weather, which can lead to death, food insecurity, and mental ill-health.  

The AMA believes health problems will only worsen with further temperature rises, and along with the AMA’s call to the Australian Government to take a number of actions to address climate change, Dr Khorshid said the health sector has also been put on notice. 

“We all have to do our bit and we’re challenging ourselves; the healthcare sector, to reduce its carbon emissions to net zero by 2040. Through our MOU with Doctors for the Environment Australia, we’re holding ourselves accountable through adopting practical policy goals that we know will make a difference.” 

Read the full media release here.