Australian health experts have written to all State and Territory leaders ahead of the COAG meeting this week, strongly urging them to reject the National Energy Guarantee, and establish national energy policies that will reduce the alarming rates of sickness and deaths across the nation.
Doctors for the Environment Australia says States and Territories Energy and Health Ministers, Treasurers and Premiers/Chief Ministers should follow the example set by many cities and states across the world, especially in the USA since Trump threatened to leave the Paris Agreement, to protect Australians’ health.
DEA is a group representing hundreds of medical experts across Australia. We are supported by a Nobel laureate, recipients of the Australian of the Year award and many other distinguished health professionals.
Spokesperson for DEA, Dr Chris Juttner, says as the NEG needs the states to legislate to enable the policy to go ahead, the State and Territory leaders are in an enormously powerful position to shape sensible energy policies that prioritise health.
Says Dr Juttner, “The NEG ‘plan’, really is just an idea, not even a policy, that was developed by the Energy Security Board (ESB) in indecent haste, between the 3 and 13 October. It was then uncritically adopted by the Federal Coalition.
“The COAG Energy Council, to whom the ESB reports, had no input into the NEG. It was presented to the States as an unpalatable fait accompli.
“The States should reject it: The NEG is a Trojan horse for the coal pushers.
“The health implications of coal are truly horrifying, with an estimated 3000 early deaths annually in Australia from air pollution, about half from coal mining and combustion, causing asthma attacks, chronic lung disease, lung cancer, dementia, heart attacks and stroke.
“Coal burning also adds greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, increasing deaths due to heat-stroke in heat-waves, burning in bushfires, drowning in floods and storm surges, injuries in cyclones, infection with warm-weather diseases, suicide in stressed farming communities and more. Gas and diesel have similar risks.
“The NEG proposes no further reduction in CO2 emissions between 2020 and 2030, thus failing Australia’s commitment to the Paris Agreement.
Expert analysis suggests that the ESB assumptions on renewable energy costs and its confused thinking on ‘dispatchability’ make the proposal seriously ill conceived.
Limiting the reduction to 26% of 2005 energy emissions by 2030 means that transport, manufacturing and agriculture will all have to take a larger part of the emission reduction load to meet Australia’s Paris targets. Such reductions are much more difficult to achieve in these sectors than in energy production.
“Unlike the Coalition, the states are already moving towards a responsible renewable future”, says Dr Juttner. “As doctors, we support rational energy policies, closure of fossil fuel generation and transition to renewable energy because we work for the health and survival of our patients and communities.”