Stuart Ayres resigns amid John Barilaro inquiry, RBA hikes interest rates; Commonwealth Games 2022 continue; Clive Palmer, Mark McGowan lashed by judge; NSW COVID cases grow, Victoria COVID cases grow; climate bill, cashless debit card repeal to be opposed by Liberals
Health Minister Mark Butler says he is working with his state and territory counterparts to reduce emissions in the healthcare sector, which contributes about 7 per cent to Australia’s national carbon emission footprint.
Asked during question time by independent MP for Mackellar Sophie Scamps to outline his plan for implementing a strategy on climate, health and wellbeing, the minister told the parliament the impact of climate change on the nation’s health “will be profound”.
“Australia lags the rest of the world in climate and health after nine long years of denial and inaction, [but] that will change under this government,” Butler said.
The Climate and Health Alliance is pushing for a national plan to decarbonise the nation’s healthcare system by 2035.
The minister said he had commissioned advice from his department about the implementation of the strategy on climate, health and wellbeing and had began discussions with state and territory health ministers about a joint plan to reduce emissions from the health sector.
“In a continent that already pushes us right up against the limits of human tolerance, heat-related deaths will increase,” he said.
“The health effects are more frequent and intense. Extreme weather events will grow substantially and disease will start to creep southward.
“The dengue fever exposure zone, for example, is expected to move as far south as Rockhampton by the middle of the century and as far south as northern NSW by the end of the century.”
Butler noted the World Health Organisation has described climate change “as the greatest threat to public health in the 21st century”, estimating that 250,000 people a year will lose their lives “as a direct result of a warming planet” between 2030 and 2050.
“Good climate policy is good public health policy,” he said.
“Renewable energy is not just good for the climate, it also removes dangerous particulate pollution from the atmosphere and improves public health, as do electric vehicles.”
He pointed to the recent heatwave in Victoria, which “caused 374 heat-related deaths, as well as a huge increase in callouts to the ambulance service”.