Humanity is in crisis. Since the Industrial Revolution, we've dug up and burned more and more fossil fuels every decade, putting colossal amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and locking in dangerous global warming. Now we're paying the price. Climate change is causing increased heatwaves, bushfires, cyclones, storms, droughts, floods, crop failures, famine, displacement, conflict and spread of infectious diseases. The World Health Organisation has estimated that climate change already kills over 150,000 people every year1 and expects it to kill many more as global temperatures rise2. In addition, air pollution from coal fired power generation kills hundreds of thousands of people every year by contributing to heart disease, lung diseases including lung cancers and strokes3,4.
At the same time, the solutions are within our grasp. Beyond Zero Emissions have found that we have the technical capacity to power Australia with 100% renewable energy within 10 years5. We can both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve our own health through staged closure of coal-fired power stations, investing in transport systems that promote active transport and by eating more plant-based and less processed foods6.
Why haven't we done these things already? In the case of fossil fuels, we've been blocked at every turn by rich, powerful individuals who aren't afraid to sacrifice people to increase their own profits. The oil baron Koch brothers in the United States have famously spent millions of dollars funding front groups, conferences and think tanks designed to deny the reality of climate change and influence political decision-making around the world7. Their contemporaries in Australia aren't hard to find.
How do we fight vested interests to create a fairer, safer future? Through people power.
Right now HESTA and First State Super, two of Australia's biggest super funds and the default super funds for health professionals in Victoria, NSW and ACT, are investing billions of dollars in the very fossil fuel companies that are driving the climate crisis - Exxon Mobil, Santos and Whitehaven Coal to name just a few.
It's crazy that health professionals' money is being used to drive the biggest global health threat of our time.
HESTA and First State Super have divested from tobacco and from Transfield Services (now "Broadspectrum") who operate asylum seeker detention centres. Now it's time for them to divest from fossil fuels.
So far at Healthy Futures we've:
- helped over 600 HESTA and First State Super members to write to their super fund calling on them to divest
- collaborated with a number of other health organisations to put pressure on the super funds, including Doctors for the Environment Australia, the Victorian Allied Health Professionals Association, the Public Health Association of Australia and the Medical Association for the Prevention of War
- taken bold public action calling on the super funds to divest
We know HESTA and First State are feeling the pressure - now we need to ramp it up in 2018. Once we win these campaigns, we'll have built a powerful coalition of health professionals and organisations ready to take on bigger goals, including getting some serious government action on climate change.
But first, the super funds.
Can you chip in to help us tackle the biggest global health threat of our time?
All donations will be matched 1:1 by a generous philanthropic donor, so your donations will have double the impact.