The Centre for Safe Air and Asthma Australia welcome the opportunity to provide a submission to the inquiry into the transition to electric vehicles by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Climate Change, Energy, Environment and Water (the Committee). Our joint submission addresses the Terms of Reference (TOR) most relevant to our shared interest in improving population health outcomes associated with airborne hazards. We note that the TOR did not explicitly include the health or wellbeing impacts of transitioning away from internal combustion engine vehicles. We urge the Committee to actively seek input from health stakeholders to ensure the full range of impacts, including benefits to health and wellbeing, are considered in the Committee’s inquiry and report.
Summary of recommendations 1. Health stakeholders should be invited to comment on the efficacy of Australia’s waste and recycling policies, especially in relation to air quality and health impacts of emissions from waste-to-energy (WtE) processes. 2. A full assessment of the environmental impacts life cycle assessments (LCAs) of WtE plants should be considered on a case-by-case basis to evaluate the risks and benefits of pollutant emissions and less obvious potential impacts on the local and wider community, within the life cycle of WtE and alternative/traditional processes. 3. The establishment of a nationally consistent best-practice approach to monitoring and minimising harmful emissions from WtE processes. 4. National consistency is required to consider health benefits/disbenefits for any new biofuel product including adequate health and toxicity consideration. 5. Consideration be given to the safe recycling and reuse of end-of-life components from low-no carbon technologies such as batteries, PVC panels and wind turbine components.
Smoke stack in clouds.
Summary of key recommendations: 1. The increasing risks posed by air pollution should be explicitly included in The National Adaptation Plan Issues Paper. 2. The National Adaptation Plan needs to take an equity-oriented approach to adapting to the impacts and disruption caused by climate change and worsening air pollution. 3. The National Adaptation Plan Issues Paper should include air quality as a crosssystem risk impacting a range of health, environment and economic systems. 4. Given the cross-system risks presented by air pollution, we advocate for a dedicated, comprehensive, inter-agency governance body for air pollution, such as exist for food and water safety. 5. We support the inclusion of co-benefits as a consideration in ‘Prioritising adaptation actions’ in The National Adaptation Plan Issues Paper. 6. The National Adaptation Plan Issues Paper should include communication, education and engagement under 3.3 Enablers of adaptation action.
Air pollution is the single greatest environmental cause of preventable disease and premature death in the world today. It ranks alongside unhealthy diets, inadequate physical activity, and tobacco smoking, as a major global risk factor for mortality. Globally, air pollution is responsible for approximately 7 million premature deaths each year. In Australia annual mortality is conservatively estimated to be more than 3,200 with a cost greater than AUD $6.2 billion from years of life lost. However, the full health and social impacts are much more extensive. This report explains why the effects of air pollution are so far reaching and, equally, why coordinated action to make air safer is one of the best investments in Australian health.
The Centre for Safe Air advocates for a stringent FES emissions reduction strategy to confer the greatest health benefits for Australians. The Consultation Impact Analysis found that the health benefits of cleaner air associated with Option C ($6.75 billion) are nearly 20% greater than Option B ($5.53 billion). Even subtracting the predicted costs, Option C provides the greatest aggregate benefit to Australians: $18.44 billion more than Option B.

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