Media Release: As energy industry leaders congregate for the Energy Transition Summit on Thursday, some of Australia’s most distinguished public health advocates will be there to send them a clear message: coal and AGL’s demerger are a dangerous diagnosis for public health.
Healthcare workers will gather outside the summit holding tobacco-style health warnings which highlight the health impacts of air pollution from coal-burning power stations, urging the energy industry to transition to renewable energy by 2030 to protect Australians’ health. Speakers will also point to the glaring omission of AGL’s CEO Graeme Hunt from the summit who withdrew as keynote speaker amidst growing controversy around AGL’s proposed demerger.
Laureate Professor Nick Talley AC, editor of the Medical Journal of Australia, said that medical journals had increasingly highlighted the urgency of protecting public health from the impacts of climate change.
“Over 200 medical journals have called for urgent action to address climate change as a public health emergency. To avoid the worst impacts on public health, it’s time for Australia’s biggest greenhouse emitters to heed the WHO call to replace coal with renewable energy by 2030,” Prof. Talley said.
The World Health Organization issued a call for all OECD nations like Australia to replace coal with renewable energy by 2030 late last year. 
Associate Professor Peter Sainsbury, former director of Population Health for the Southwestern Sydney Local Health District and former president of the Public Health Association of Australia, said the evidence of the direct harms of coal combustion was clear yet AGL’s demerger would increase risks to communities at a time when it should be reducing them.
“Coal-burning power stations pollute the air with fine particles that can travel deep into the lung and cross into the bloodstream, leading to exacerbations of childhood asthma, heart and lung conditions and cause about as much harm as vehicle pollution in metropolitan Sydney. If Australia’s biggest polluter AGL abandoned its demerger and instead replaced coal with renewable energy by 2030, this would bring immediate benefits to communities breathing cleaner and healthier air,” Dr. Sainsbury said.
Healthy Futures has warned investors that if AGL proceeds with its demerger, it will have little accountability or incentive to reduce its enormous carbon emissions, and could lead to failed outcomes for rehabilitation and equitable transition as coal increasingly becomes economic, leaving communities exposed to risks from coal ash dams.
“As a grandmother, I’m concerned about the impacts of climate change on the health of today’s generation of young people. We owe it to all future generations to urge decision-makers in industry and government to act in line with the science and move Australia beyond coal by 2030,” added Kati Watson who also will address the event.
Around 800 healthcare workers and 25 health organisations have signed an open letter to AGL calling for an orderly plan to replace coal with 100% renewable energy by 2030.
If you're a healthcare worker, sign our letter to AGL Shareholders urging them to vote against AGL's dirty demerger plan