Health professionals travelled to Melbourne to join a theatrical health protest outside AGL’s head office to call on the energy giant to reduce its harmful coal pollution, warning that the health impacts of climate change could dwarf the impacts of Covid-19.
The group, including doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers have set up a mock medical ward with dying patients to demonstrate the health impacts of air pollution and climate change, and are delivering an open letter signed by 25 Australian health organisations and over 600 healthcare workers calling for AGL to commit to replace coal with renewable energy by 2030, in line with recommendations from the World Health Organisation.
“Gippslanders face significant health burdens as a result of both toxic air pollution from Victorian coal fired power stations and the health impacts of climate change from droughts and deadly bushfires. To save lives from both of these threats, AGL needs to replace Loy Yang A with renewable energy by 2030 while ensuring the wellbeing of workers and the local community.” said Dr Benjamin Lewis, a GP in Warragul.
“As a mental health professional, I see a lot of uncertainty in the community about both climate change and the future of the energy industry, and that can have severe impacts on people’s mental health,” said Veronique Hamilton, a mental health nurse in the Latrobe Valley.
“Loy Yang A’s current closure date of 2048 is unrealistic and AGL need to come clean with the community about a realistic and appropriate plan to replace it with renewable energy and ensure a transition that includes skilled local jobs.”
AGL is a joint respondent in a court case brought by conservation group Environment Victoria seeking to limit air pollution and greenhouse gases from the power stations in the Latrobe Valley, and has had dozens of breaches for ash spills, exceeding air pollution limits and water contamination.