Climate change is a health emergency, Australian Medical Association says

Health implications: The AMA Federal Council at its August meeting recognised climate change as a health emergency.
Health implications: The AMA Federal Council at its August meeting recognised climate change as a health emergency.

Climate Change Australia - Hastings has congratulated the Australian Medical Association (AMA) on its climate change position.

The AMA recognises climate change as a health emergency with clear scientific evidence indicating severe impacts for its patients and communities now and into the future.

Climate Change Australia - Hastings president Kerri-ann Jones said the AMA's statement was factual.

"There is no scaremongering and there is no hysteria," she said.

Ms Jones said Climate Change Australia - Hastings was very mindful that climate change, if not mitigated, was going to have significant impacts on people's health and wellbeing.

She said they hoped governments and others would take notice of the AMA's message.

The AMA Federal Council declared climate change is real and will have the earliest and most severe health consequences on vulnerable populations around the world, including in Australia and the Pacific region.

The AMA has joined a chorus of voices urging action to address climate change on health grounds.

AMA president Dr Tony Bartone said the evidence was in on climate change and it was irrefutable.

"The AMA accepts the scientific evidence on climate change and its impact on human health and human wellbeing," Dr Bartone said.

"The scientific reality is that climate change affects health and wellbeing by increasing the situations in which infectious diseases can be transmitted, and through more extreme weather events, particularly heatwaves."

Dr Bartone said climate change would cause higher mortality and morbidity from heat stress, injury and mortality from increasingly severe weather events, food insecurity and a higher incidence of mental ill-health.

The AMA is calling on the federal government to take a range of actions including the adoption of mitigation targets within an Australian carbon budget and development of a national strategy for health and climate change.

Doctors for the Environment Australia applauded the AMA's declaration, describing it as a major milestone that firmly acknowledges the toll of rising global temperatures on health as well as the urgency in addressing the climate crisis.

The group's national co-chair, Professor Kingsley Faulkner, said the AMA's decision to ring the alarm bell on climate change as a health emergency was a significant move that behoved our policy makers to turn off their blinkers and start taking an urgent re-evaluation of priorities and planning for climate adaptation and mitigation.