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ESG

Health and climate strategy: All talk, no budget

Health Industry Hub | May 16, 2024 |

ESG: The Federal Budget has sparked disappointment among health professionals for its lack of attention to addressing the escalating impacts of climate change on the well-being of Australians.

Dr Kate Wylie, Executive Director of Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) and a practicing GP, expressed deep concern, remarking, “It is extremely upsetting that there is no budgetary support for climate and health.”

She emphasised the inconsistency between the government’s acknowledgment of climate change as the “greatest public health threat” in the National Health and Climate Strategy, released at COP28 last December, and the absence of financial backing to realise its goals.

“What is the point of having a strategy if you are not going to back it up with budgetary support?” questioned Dr Wylie, highlighting the government’s failure to fulfil its obligation to safeguard Australians from the health impacts of global warming.”

She added, “Our government has failed in its duty of care to protect Australians from the health harms of global heating. What adds insult to injury, is that the government continues to expand gas exports despite being well aware that fossil fuels, like gas, are the primary cause of global heating and the resultant health emergency.” 

In their pre-budget submission, Doctors for the Environment Australia had urged the federal government to allocate adequate funds to implement Australia’s inaugural National Health and Climate Strategy.

Dr Wylie stressed the urgent need for swift execution of the Strategy to shield Australians from the substantial health risks posed by climate change, mitigate the health sector’s substantial role in climate pollution, while delivering sustainable, high quality health care for patients and financial savings to the community. 

“On the ground, healthcare workers are treating people impacted by climate health events like heat waves, fires, floods, storms and sea level rise, as well as the mental health effects that go with them. There are also the indirect effects of loss of infrastructure, pressure on health and emergency services, food and water insecurity, displacement and increased cost of living. All of which places increased pressure on our already overburdened healthcare systems,” she explained.

Echoing these sentiments, Professor Eugenie Kayak, Co-Convenor of DEA’s Sustainable Healthcare Committee, voiced profound disappointment in the budget’s failure to adequately fund the implementation of the National Health and Climate Strategy.

Professor Kayak said, “It is bitterly disappointing. The Strategy was an excellent start towards protecting Australians from the significant health threats of climate change and addressing the need for the healthcare sector to ‘get its own house in order’ and deliver sustainable, high quality healthcare.”

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Health Industry Hub | May 16, 2024 |

ESG: The Federal Budget has sparked disappointment among health professionals for its lack of attention to addressing the escalating impacts […]

More


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