Australia | Report urges health sector to divest fossil fuels and invest in health

2016.04.18 Investing in HealthThe health sector has an obligation to divest from any investments in coal, oil, and gas, on ethical, health, and economic grounds, according to a new joint report from the Healthy Energy Initiative’s Australia partner, Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA), and Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA).

The report, entitled “Investing in Health,” urges Australia’s 600,000+ health workers — along with health organisations and health super funds — to divest from fossil fuels. It demonstrates the health of people everywhere is being harmed by fossil fuels, and positions renewable energy as a healthier, safer, investment.

“Climate change, driven by the burning of coal, oil and gas, threatens our ability to provide healthy nutritious food, clean air and clean water for humans all over the world,” said CAHA’s Vice President, Associate Professor Peter Sainsbury.

“We are health workers and the choice to end any links to fossil fuel assets is an ethical one. Investing in industries that cause harm to human health is incompatible with our duty of care,” said DEA report editor and DEA spokesperson, Dr. Helen Redmond.

Key findings from the report:

  • Climate change has been identified as both the “defining health issue” and the “greatest global health threat” of the 21st century.
  • The health impacts of climate change occur due to heat, extreme weather events, ecosystem change and collapse, and social system destabilisation. Climate change is currently responsible for 400,000 deaths per annum.
  • Health professionals have a long history of acting beyond the clinic, taking active steps to improve the social, economic and environmental determinants of health. Actions against the tobacco and asbestos industry are recent examples.
  • Production and consumption of fossil fuels – coal oil and gas – adversely impact human health through air pollution, psychosocial impacts, water contamination and land degradation, as well as being the major driver of climate change.
  • To have a reasonable chance (66% likelihood) of staying below a 2°C limit of global warming, up to 80% of known fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground.
  • Fossil fuel assets are worth five trillion US dollars. Many health professionals and health organisations have investments in the industry via their financial portfolios, superannuation or banking; most are unaware they are supporting the fossil fuel industry.
  • There are clear financial risks in investment in carbon intensive industries which will become ‘stranded assets’ in a carbon constrained world.

For more information:

  • Visit to download the report and find resources for divestment.
  • Share the report on social media with the hashtag #investinginhealth
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