Open letter Australian health professionals to ban fossil fuel advertising and sponsorships
To: the Prime Minister, Premiers, Ministers, MPs and Mayors
Summary: Our laws are designed to protect the health and wellbeing of Australians. On the grounds of protecting health, we as health professionals strongly urge all levels of government to ban fossil fuel advertising and sponsorships.
The promotion of tobacco, gambling and alcohol is restricted across all three levels of government in recognition of their health impacts on our community. Yet coal, oil and gas corporations are allowed unrestricted access to our airways, billboards and digital platforms to sell themselves and the products that are damaging our health, environment and climate.
More than 200 health professionals and organisations have signed an open letter to Australian lawmakers, demanding an end to promotions for coal, oil and gas.
Fossil fuels are hazardous to human health. From the time they are dug out of the ground to when they are burned, they release toxic pollutants into our air, soil and waterways. Living near fracking wells has been linked to premature births and early deaths. Air pollution from fossil fuels alone takes 8.7 million lives prematurely each year – the same as tobacco.
Burning fossil fuels is also the primary cause of global warming which is driving more intense and frequent heat waves, storms, bushfires and droughts. The impact this will have on human health and our health systems cannot be underestimated. It is expected that climate change could cause around 83 million human deaths by 2100 if urgent action isn’t taken. Countless more will suffer long-term physical, economic and mental impacts of displacement, loss of life and loss of livelihoods.
Advertising fossil fuels serves no purpose other than to increase demand for the products that are driving climate change and harming our community. There is no good argument for continuing to allow fossil fuel companies to promote themselves. Fossil fuel advertisements mislead consumers about the environmental attributes of their dangerous and toxic products, and delays the shift in social attitudes urgently required to transition to safer, cleaner energy. This dangerous promotion is at the cost of public health and has not been curtailed by advertising industry self-regulation.
Restrictions on fossil fuel advertising are in place in France, Amsterdam, and several UK council areas in recognition of the numerous harms that fossil fuels cause. Other laws are being debated in the EU, Germany, Sweden and Canada.
We, as healthcare workers, are on the frontline of the impacts of climate change on human health. We ask you to protect the health of Australians by banning the advertising of coal, oil and gas products, as well as the promotion of fossil fuel companies through advertising and sponsorships.