News from the Secretary, December 2008

In a week when the World Meteorological Office (WMO) reported that 2008 was the tenth warmest since records began in 1850 and global temperatures for 2000-2008 stood almost 0.2 °C warmer than the average for the decade 1990–1999, the WMO said "The industrialised world must cut its emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2020 if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change”. The Australian government set a target of 5 percent reduction In the Carbon Reduction Pollution Scheme (CRPS)—called an Emissions trading scheme (ETS) in other countries. Industry and the Opposition claimed this proposal was too much or too soon or both. Certainly it was not an auspicious week for the most wealthy and stable country in the world and the biggest per capita emitter. And it was a bitter disappointment to those who understand the implications of climate change. There is more comment in the article below

Comparing Australia’s targets to those of Europe for 2020 (20 percent renewable energy, 20 energy savings, and 20 emissions reduction from1990 levels) the government has claimed that Australia will reduce emissions per capita more than Europe. Tim Colebatch in The Age   exposes this claim in relation to population growth and the fact that Australia already emits two and a half times as much carbon dioxide per capita than Europe. Australia should be able to pick the low cherries in carbon reduction that Europe has already achieved. Furthermore as pointed out by the Australia Institute   unless the CPRS is modified the impact of the solar 2020 scheme will be negated.

The community has worked very hard to press the government for action. What has been achieved?  Perhaps only a CPRS one year prior to the previous Government’s proposal.  Indeed the outcome may not be materially different.

Perhaps the biggest failure that we have to endure is the failure of leadership As Robyn Eckersley wrote in The AgeThe targets are weak not only in terms of well-understood scientific requirements but also the moral and legal requirements of leadership under the climate regime...... Leadership surely means showing the way by going first, inspiring others and, as an affluent country, observing the burden-sharing principles of the climate change regime by performing relatively more of the heavy lifting. It does not mean waiting to see what others will do before taking concerted action. Nor does it mean postponing concerted action until substantial commitments are made from countries in which millions of people live below the poverty line”.

The role of DEA in climate change advocacy.

As indicated in the previous newsletter we have written to all members and senators on the issue of renewable energy and the CPRS. Recently we have sent additional letters to all members of cabinet. We have published on the issue in the weekend Australian,25197,24751826-23289,00.html 

Before proceeding further we have to ask ourselves what we believe to be the reason for the government’s failure. There are two factors, the lobbying power and threats from the big polluters who have now received a low target and large financial handouts, and the failure of understanding of the implications of climate change by the government. The latter is possibly the reason why the polluters prevailed. In determining our focus of activity for 2009, we cannot mix it with the polluters for we do not have the resources, but we can intensify our contact with our representatives. We expect to write to you further with our proposals.

A confluence of concerns for DEA and MAPW

The following matters will be on interest to members

MAPW President Dr Sue Wareham today has written to climate minister Penny Wong, asking her to take stronger action to reduce Australia’s carbon emissions and invest in sustainability, as climate change is a major cause of political instability and conflict in the world. Read Sue’s letter on our website resources page:

The Prime Minister has initiated a Federal Parliamentary Inquiry into Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament, to examine the set of international nuclear treaties involving Australia - including Australia’s uranium exports bilateral agreements, and to report on how they may be made more comprehensive or effective and how they may advance Australia’s objectives in this field. The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCT) will conduct the Inquiry, public submissions are sought by 30 January 2009. DEA will be making a submission to highlight the health implications of this issue.

An important study about the French nuclear industry has been published. Claims about nuclear energy's credentials for climate protection and energy independence in particular are exposed as myths.

 Bryan Furness, member of DEA in Canberra, has notifies us of a film and DVD called Scarred lands and wounded lives - the environmental footprint of warfare. It is well researched and presented, giving a broad account of the awful effects of warfare on humans and disdain for the environment. A preview can be seen on the website:” The film was a finalist in the documentary section of the Washington Film Festival and is the only US entry for an international film award.

Good news section

Climate change, growing food and health. This article was published on our website in September.  The Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program has been running in Victoria since 2001. The good news is that  the Federal Government has committed $12.8 million dollars to help the project to expand to almost 200 primary schools across Australia.

Our new educational poster

This poster, “Less Drive Time, More Alive Time” is now displayed on <a href=””></a> In the November GP Review it was foreshadowed that the poster would be distributed with the December copy of Australian Family Physician.ou should have receied thsi copy So please make sure it doesn’t go out with the wrapper. To those members of DEA who are not RACGP members you can down-load the poster or email me at  to be sent one or more copies. When you email me please indicate whether you would like further copies of the other posters on display on the web site.

The aim of the posters is to link important health messages, lifestyle and reduction of green house emissions and to display these in waiting rooms and hospital notice boards.  You may also consider displaying the explanatory text to accompany the posters, which can be downloaded from the DEA web site.

A useful publication

His a very practical educational (for your patients) document on the environmental causes of cancer produced by the Canadian Cancer Society