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Open letter to the Hon Tony Abbott MP

Dear Prime Minister,

We urge you to include human-induced climate change and its serious health consequences on the agenda for this year’s G20 meeting. The world community looks to high-income countries for a strong lead. Current climate trends, driven by global warming, threaten the basis of future economic prosperity, regional political stability and human health.

As concern rises in many countries, including increasing awareness of the risks to human health and safety, many G20 members are strengthening their commitment to substantive mitigation action. The new United States regulations limiting coal-fired power plant emissions are explicitly linked to the protection of health. Meanwhile, if Australia passes up opportunities for new energy technologies and efficiencies, we will forfeit gains in long-term economic security and fail to contribute fairly to reducing worldwide risks to human health.

There are serious risks from climate change to the health of populations everywhere — widely documented in national and international scientific assessments. The risks include, but extend well beyond, intensified heatwaves, floods, fires and the spread of disease-bearing mosquitoes. Regional food yields and hence child and adult nutrition are at risk. Water shortages threaten the quantity and quality of drinking water, hygiene and agriculture. Warming and acidification of oceans endanger marine food sources.…