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Doctors union mounts push for government action to tackle climate change

By June 1, 2015In the News

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Climate change can’t be ignored, AMA says. Photo: Reuters

The powerful doctors lobby group is set to ramp up pressure on the federal government to take action on climate change.

Australian Medical Association vice president Stephen Parnis says a working group has been established to revamp the group’s climate policy before the UN climate change conference in Paris this year.

“We would like Australia’s targets and priorities to be informed by AMA policy and influenced by AMA advocacy,” he told doctors at the AMA’s national conference in Brisbane on Sunday.

Dr Parnis called for doctors to take a more active role in mitigating climate change, with the negative health effects already becoming apparent and putting additional strain on the health system.

He said heatwaves in Victoria last summer produced a dramatic increase in visits to emergency departments.

AMA president Brian Owler said the government needed to start preparing for the significant health consequences of a warming climate, as well as working to mitigate climate change, such as setting up a centre for disease control.

He said there was evidence of tropical diseases, mainly mosquito-borne, moving southward as temperatures rise.

There is also risk of increased diseases among livestock and crops.

“So far the government’s response has been generally disappointing,” Associate Professor Owler told reporters.

“We want to see more action on climate change; we want to see our government recognise the importance of this issue.”

The draft policy will be put before the AMA’s policy-making federal council at its next meeting in August.

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