Dear Mr Redman and the AGL Board,
We understand that AGL is currently revising its business strategy in light of a recent multi-billion dollar write-down of asset value, and that elements of the new business strategy will be presented to investors on March 29th.
As healthcare workers and health organisations, we urge AGL to take this opportunity to create a business strategy that protects the health of Australians.
AGL is currently Australia’s biggest climate polluter, emitting over twice as much greenhouse gases as any other company in Australia . Average temperatures in Australia have risen by 1.4 degrees in the last century . Over the 2019-20 summer, unprecedented bushfires directly killed 33 Australians, destroyed over 3,000 homes , and killed an estimated 417 further Australians through the toxic effects of the smoke . Climate change is projected to impact on the physical and mental health of many more Australians by increasing the frequency and severity of bushfires, droughts and heatwaves, as well as increasing risk of allergic and infectious diseases . In order to protect Australians from these impacts AGL must develop a plan to shut down its coal fired power stations and replace them with renewable energy by 2030 at the latest.
Besides contributing to climate change, burning coal produces air pollution that causes heart attacks, strokes, lung cancers, other lung diseases and can affect pregnant women and children [6,7]. Pollution from Australian coal fired power stations was recently estimated to kill 785 Australians every year, as well as causing 14,434 instances of children experiencing asthma symptoms and 845 babies to be born with low birth weight, which can have lifelong adverse health consequences .
To protect Australians from the above health risks we now request that AGL commit to replacing all its coal fired power stations with renewable energy as soon as possible, and by 2030 at the latest. It is crucial that this energy transition is planned to protect the welfare of communities who have been historically dependent on coal industry jobs, and that legacy assets and infrastructure are fully rehabilitated to ensure environmental protection and ongoing employment after closure.
AGL has an immediate opportunity to save the lives of hundreds of Australians every year from the effects of toxic air pollution and climate change. We implore you to seize this opportunity.
We look forward to your response.
[healthcare worker and health organisation signatories]
1. Australian Government Clean Energy Regulator (2021). Corporate emissions and energy data 2019-20. Retrieved from http://www.cleanenergyregulator.gov.au/NGER/National%20greenhouse%20and%20energy%20reporting%20data/Corporate%20emissions%20and%20energy%20data/corporate-emissions-and-energy-data-2019-20 on Mar 11th, 2021
2. CSIRO and Australian Government Department of Environment Bureau of Meteorology (2020). Australian climate trends. Retrieved from https://www.climatechangeinaustralia.gov.au/en/climate-campus/australian-climate-change/australian-trends/ on Mar 8th, 2021
3. Richards L., Brew, N. and Smith L. (2020). 2019–20 Australian bushfires—frequently asked questions: a quick guide. Retrieved from https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp1920/Quick_Guides/AustralianBushfires on Mar 8th, 2021
4. Arragiada, N. B., Palmer, A. J., Bowman, D. MJS., Morgan, G. G., Jalaludin, B. B., Johnston, F. H. (2020). Unprecedented smoke-related health burden associated with the 2019-20 bushfires in eastern Australia. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.5694/mja2.50545 on Mar 8th, 2021
5. Parise, I. (2018). A brief review of global climate change and the public health consequences. Retrieved from https://www1.racgp.org.au/ajgp/2018/july/climate-change-and-the-public-health on Mar 8th, 2021
6. Lockwood, A.H., Welker-Hood, K., Rauch, M. and Gottlieb, B. (2009). Coal’s assault on human health: a report from Physicians for Social Responsibility. Retrieved from https://www.psr.org/blog/resource/coals-assault-on-human-health/ on Mar 8th, 2021
7. Amster, E. and Lew Levy, C. (2019). Impact of coal-fired power plant emissions on children’s health: a systematic review of the epidemiological literature. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 2008. Retrieved from https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/16/11/2008/htm on Mar 8th, 2021
8. Farrow, A., Anhäuser, A. and Myllyvirta, L. (2020). Lethal power: how burning coal is killing people in Australia. Retrieved from https://www.greenpeace.org.au/research/lethal-power-how-coal-is-killing-people-in-australia/ on
Mar 8th, 2021