23 May 2017
Market Forces today led a delegation of doctors, health professionals and Medibank customers, who visited Medibank’s offices to hand over materials outlining the link between fossil fuels and public health impacts.
The group – including representatives of Doctors for the Environment Australia, The Australian Medical Students Association, Healthy Futures and the Victorian Allied Health Professionals Association – pointed out to Medibank that it is in their interest, and the interest of the entire insurance sector, to divest from fossil fuels and actively fight for a transition to a low-emissions economy.
At their AGM in November 2016 Medibank faced a number of questions from shareholders regarding their investment in coal, oil and gas companies, due to the negative impact that these industries have on public health directly and via global warming.
Since then, and with HCF becoming the first Australian insurance company to announce divestment from fossil fuels (in February), the calls for action from health professionals and Medibank customers have been growing.
There is a growing shift out of fossil fuels across the health sector more generally, with the Australian Medical Association and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians recently putting out strong statements calling for climate action and fossil fuel divestment.
Back in 2009, the world’s foremost medical journal, The Lancet, declared climate change as the “biggest global health threat of the 21st Century”.
So it is disappointing that most private health insurers, including Australia’s biggest, Medibank, are still investing their customers’ money in coal, oil and gas companies.
But with Medibank currently reviewing its environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies, we are asking Australia’s biggest health insurer to make the right call and divest from fossil fuels. We want Medibank to take their rightful place alongside us in the fight for cleaner air and a safe climate.
Medibank has already divested from tobacco and “controversial” weapons, acknowledging the hypocrisy of investing in products which threaten human health. Divestment from dirty fossil fuels is needed for exactly the same reason.
Do you have private health insurance? Use the form on this page to tell your insurer to ditch fossil fuels. To find out more about our health insurance campaign click here.