“More people will die”: Government must solve health crisis with urgent climate action this decade

Tuesday 01 March 2022

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report confirms that urgent climate action is crucial to save Australian lives, said the Climate and Health Alliance today, in response to the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6).

“For every day the Australian government delays on climate action, more people will get sick and more people will die,” says Ms Fiona Armstrong, Executive Director of CAHA, Australia’s peak body on climate and health.

Ms Armstrong said: “The report says Australia’s 1-in-100-year floods could occur several times a year. None of us can cope with back-to-back Brisbane floods.”

“Climate change is a huge, accelerating public health crisis. Australia must make much deeper cuts to emissions this decade, alongside the rest of the world, in order to save lives, prevent suffering and promote good health.

“Australia’s health sector is calling for two things: a national plan on climate and health, and for substantial cuts in national emissions by 2030.”

The AR6 report outlines multiple significant climate-related health impacts for people in Australia:

  • In Australia, there will be 20-70% more days over 35°C by 2030, putting people at risk of heat-related illnesses;
  • In Australian cities, excess heat-related deaths could quadruple in 2031-2080 compared with 1971-2020;
  • Heatwaves almost twice as likely in Australia if temperature rise reaches 2.0°C compared to 1.5°C;
  • Australia’s “1-in-100 year floods” could occur several times a year;
  • The dependence of regional Australia on an “overstretched” volunteer base to respond to disasters makes it extremely vulnerable; and
  • Climate change will exacerbate the health inequities already faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

Ms Armstrong said, “CAHA has laid the groundwork for a national climate and health strategy already - the ideas are there for the taking in "Healthy, Regenerative and Just - a framework for a national strategy on climate, health and wellbeing.”

Regional spokespeople available.
Media contact: Remy Shergill, 0423 075 895, [email protected]