Healthcare workers have assembled at AGL‘s 2022 Annual General Meeting, pushing shareholders to vote against the company’s proposed Climate Action Transition Plan (CTAP) on health grounds.
Healthcare workers are preparing to raise questions inside the AGM, while other health professionals are outside greeting shareholders and underlining the deficiencies of AGL’s proposed CTAP to address climate change and its linked health implications.
AGL, a firm responsible for 8 per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, has been under pressure from Healthy Futures, a network of health professionals worried about climate change, to move from polluting fossil fuels to renewable energy for nearly two years. Healthy Futures said although the recent announcement to move Loy Yang A’s closure to 2035 as part of the CTAP is a step in the right direction, more needs to be done.
According to Healthy Futures, AGL’s planned CTAP falls short of the Paris climate agreement’s 1.5-degree warming target. Because of the expected increase in lethal heatwaves, floods, bushfires, and other natural catastrophes, this has profound health implications. Furthermore, every year that a coal-fired power station continues operational endangers the health of Australian communities. Every year, air pollution from coal burning is projected to cause 800 early deaths and 14,000 asthma episodes in Australian children.
“As a doctor, I am concerned with the health risks associated with burning fossil fuels and related climate change-induced natural disasters and extreme heat. A failure to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy fast enough is not only a health risk but a climate and economic risk to AGL. The current climate transition action plan on offer is a step in the right direction, but it is not ambitious enough. Innovative climate risk management is essential to seizing opportunities as the energy sector rapidly moves to 100% renewables,” Dr Kim Loo, Sydney-based GP said.
Unambitious climate action in the face of increased natural disasters, growing energy bills, and energy insecurity negatively impact Australians’ mental health as well, Healthy Futures added.
“It is understandable that my Latrobe Valley community is greatly concerned about when and how the transition from coal to renewables will occur. With the impacts of climate change directly impacting our community’s physical and mental wellbeing through droughts and bushfires, it is evident this transition needs to occur sooner rather than later. However, an unplanned energy transition could also have detrimental impacts on our community’s wellbeing. That is exactly why AGL needs to give us a better plan now for how they will replace their coal power stations with renewable energy by 2030,” Latrobe Valley nurse Veronique Hamilton stated.
To mitigate the health effects of climate change, Healthy Futures said AGL must increase its efforts to provide reliable, sustainable, and affordable energy. Health workers demand that AGL commit to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030. As it stands, the CTAP lacks the specificity required to ensure these obligations.
Shareholders play a crucial role in influencing a company’s climate and energy policy through their vote, and Healthy Futures hopes that many will take advantage of the chance today to set AGL on a path of renewable energy leadership.