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AFMW’s Climate Health Action Group Open Letter to Environment Minister Sussan Ley

CHAG Open letter
AFMW’s Climate Health Action Group (CHAG) has written an open letter to Environment Minister Sussan Ley urging her to support the actions of those working to sustain the environment’s wellbeing, and to take actions to protect the environment.  
Minister Ley has been prominent in the media this week for two reasons:
  • Minister Ley is appealing a decision from May 2021 in which she was found to have a duty of care to protect future Australians from the harm caused by the potential expansion of a coal mine.
  • Minister Ley successfully lobbied UNESCO for the Great Barrier Reef to be kept off the ‘in-danger’ list. 


Open Letter (copy)

Dear Minister Ley,

We write to you as a group of women doctors dedicated to optimising the health of all Australians, particularly women and children. Our letter is in response to media reports (Sydney Morning Herald, July 21) that you have appealed a recent court ruling on the grounds that Justice Bromberg was incorrect to find that you, as Environment Minister, “owed a duty of care … to avoid causing personal injury or death to persons who were under 18 years of age … arising from emissions of carbon dioxide”.

As Environment Minister, you are no doubt aware of the very concerning scientific evidence of the impact of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions on the climate and projections of its likely compounding impacts in the future. Specifically, data from the CSIRO and Australian Bureau of Meteorology (CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology 2015, Climate Change in Australia Information for Australia’s Natural Resource Management Regions: Technical Report, CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology, Australia) support projections including:

  • increasing mean temperatures by up to 4.8 degrees and global sea levels by up to 82cm by the year 2100,
  • in Australia, more frequent and hotter hot days,
  • more extreme rain events and these events will be more extreme,
  • increased frequency and severity of droughts,
  • more intense, and more south-reaching cyclones, and
  • harsher fire weather in parts of Australia.

The health impacts of these changes are wide-reaching. Parts of the world are currently living through unprecedented floods, fires and heat-waves. The World Health Organisation estimates that fossil fuel combustion is a major contributor to more than 7 million deaths annually (World Health Organisation 2018, COP24 special report: health and climate change, World Health Organisation, Geneva). Climate change impacts access to basic human rights such as clean air, safe drinking water and food.

As the impacts of climate change compound with time, it is inspiring to see young people take actions aimed at minimising these projected effects. These actions should be supported and encouraged as their solutions will be crucial to mitigating climate change’s impacts on their own future.

We therefore urge you to support the actions of those working to sustain our environment’s wellbeing, and to take important steps now to protect the environment.

Kind regards,

Australian Federation of Medical Women
Climate Health Action Group


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