Media release

Firefighters, farmers and nurses speak up on climate change

AUSTRALIANS on the frontline of climate change have spoken out against the government’s “woefully low” emission reduction targets released yesterday.
A farmer, a firefighter and a nurse have today urgently called on the government to strengthen their emissions reduction targets as climate change impacts are increasingly placing them and their colleagues in danger.

The government yesterday pledged to cut pollution by 26-28% by 2030, far below what scientists say is required to tackle climate change and less than what has been committed to by Australia’s major trading partners.

ICU nurse and Director of the Climate and Health Alliance Dr Liz Hanna said the targets were too weak to protect Australians or the health sector from the worsening impacts of extreme heat driven by climate change.

“Anyone who has worked at a hospital during a heatwave will tell you: extreme heat is deadly. Right now, the most vulnerable are children, the elderly, workers and those with chronic health problems.  Soon it will be all of us,” she said.

“The burden on our health sector from more frequent and intense heatwaves is immense, and growing. We need to treat the disease, not the symptoms and the only way to do that is through a strong emissions reduction target which helps limit global warming.

“These government targets are clearly insufficient to protect public health.”

Firefighter Jim Casey said the government was putting firefighters and Australians at risk by failing to tackle climate change.

“Firefighters are on the front line of climate change. Extreme fire weather has already become more frequent, and more intense. These new catastrophic fire conditions make it much harder and more dangerous for firefighters to do their job of protecting the community,” he said.

“We should think of strong emissions reduction targets as being like backburning- necessary to reduce our bushfire risk.

“We need much stronger action to protect firefighters as well as Australians from more devastating and unpredictable bushfires.”

Climate change was the number one threat to Australian farmers, who helped to feed and clothe millions of people around the world every year, dairy farmer Marian Macdonald said.

“A stable climate is the lifeblood of a successful farm and without it, farming is going to get increasingly tougher,” she said.

“Farmers are already feeling the pressure from more frequent and intense droughts and increased crop losses from extreme heat.

“Strong emission reduction targets can also drive investment in renewable energy. Renewable energy can provide another source of income and bring jobs back to regional and rural Australia. Farmers can power Australia if the politicians get behind us.”

Media inquiries: Dinah Arndt on 0425 791 394