The People’s Clean Air Action Plan

The people of Victoria and NSW have been waiting too long for the Andrews and Berejiklian governments to combat toxic air pollution and protect their health.

Every day their governments delay action on air pollution, is another day communities suffer health impacts from air pollution – like asthma, heart attack and stroke, and premature death.

The government needs to act on the worst sources of toxic air pollution now. That means reducing pollution from major sources – coal-fired power stations, vehicle emissions and wood heaters.

Where the government has failed, the people have stepped in. In collaboration with community, health and environment groups, and international pollution experts, we’ve developed a list of actions for the NSW and Victorian governments to reduce toxic air pollution and protect public health.

The People’s Clean Air Action Plans for Victoria and NSW call for the state governments to reduce the biggest sources of air pollution by:

 

  • Increasing air quality monitoring and access to information about air pollution
  • Reducing coal-fired power station pollution with best practice control standards
  • Reducing vehicle pollution, with a focus on vehicle pollution hotspots
  • Phasing out wood-burning heaters
  • Legislating health-based ambient air quality standards.

The overwhelming industrial source of air pollution in Australia is coal-fired power stations. Toxic air pollution from coal-fired power stations disproportionately impacts the communities living near them, making this one of the most significant environmental justice issues in Australia.

“I have lived right on the doorstep of Vales Point Power coal-fired station for 43 years. I am a non-smoker, seldom drink alcohol, take no illicit drugs, eat very healthily, am slim and extremely fit for my 68 years.

Yet, I continue to confound my Doctors and specialists as I am suffering the chronic ailments of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder and have recently been diagnosed as being at moderate risk of a heart attack due to a 20-50% blockage of all arteries.

Whilst there may be other contributing factors, I would say that the toxic gases and particulate pollution I have been exposed to from Vales Point power station, may have caused, or are, at the very least, exacerbating, my chronic conditions and will thus shorten my life.”

Sue Wynn, NSW Central Coast, Secretary Mannering Park Progress

“I grew up in the Latrobe Valley where generations of my family members worked in the Yallourn and Hazelwood power stations and where we were also exposed to the toxic pollution they pumped out.

My sister was often so sick she had to be on multiple courses of steroids, antibiotics and asthma medication. I was even taught how to get my sister onto a nebuliser if she had a bad asthma attack and couldn’t breathe.

We have the ability to reduce toxic pollution in the air we breathe, we just need the Victorian government to do its job and implement the measures needed to reduce toxic emissions to as close to zero as possible.

The Victorian community can’t wait any longer while the government drags their feet. Where the government has failed, the people have stepped in. It’s time the Victorian government puts people before polluters and urgently adopts the recommendations in The People’s Clean Air Action Plans.”

Bronya Lipski, EJA Lawyer who grew up in the Latrobe Valley

“There is no safe level of air pollution. Our governments should be doing everything they can to reduce toxic emissions to as close to zero as possible.

Over the years, I’ve seen many people in Gippsland presenting with serious health issues caused by air pollution from the coal-fired power stations – kids with severe asthma symptoms, adults with lung cancer who have never smoked a cigarette, heart disease, the list goes on.

It frustrates me that the government could so easily reduce sources of pollution like this that are so detrimental to community health and at a staggering cost to the taxpayer.”

Dr Suzanne Deed, Gippsland GP and psychotherapist

 

“I see patients presenting with serious health issues caused by air pollution from nearby coal-fired power stations and mines,
particularly kids with asthma, adults with respiratory diseases and heart disease, and pregnancy complications.

I’m sick and tired of seeing patients with preventable diseases caused by toxic air pollution while the calls for governments and power companies to act are continually ignored.

Improving the health of people living near coal-fired power stations and coal mines should be a priority. I am extremely frustrated to see how our governments took immediate action regarding the Covid-19 pandemic, yet they continue to do nothing on the
public health threat of toxic air pollution that kills almost 5,000 Australians every year.

Our governments could so easily reduce pollution from coal-fired power stations and coal mines but instead they let let these companies make record profits while we breathe in toxic air.”

Dr Bob Vickers, Hunter Valley GP

The facts

Each year, approximately 2600-4800 people in Australians die as a result of exposure to toxic air pollution, at an annual health cost of $24 billion.

 

Some of the most vulnerable people are hardest hit by air pollution – low-income communities, the elderly, people with chronic diseases, children, pregnant women, and unborn babies.

The most recent analysis of the health impacts of coal-fired power in Australia found that they contribute to 845 babies being born with a low birth-weight, 14,434 children with asthma, and 758 premature deaths each year, at a cost of $2.4 billion to the economy.

February 15, 2021
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