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Veterinarians appalled by the number of animals killed by climate change

Posted in Operations @ May 19th 2022 - By Al Foster Vander Elst, CEO, Vets for Climate Action
Veterinarians Appalled By The Number Of Animals Killed By Climate Change

Members of Veterinarians for Climate Action (VfCA) are appalled by the ongoing loss of animals due to the rising temperature and severe weather events. 

Chair of VfCA Dr Jeannet Kessels says: “We ask all those who care about animals to have climate action in the forefront of their mind when casting their vote in the forthcoming Federal Election. Veterinarians are scientists, relying on published scientific findings to provide the best possible care for animals. It is a scientific fact that climate change is harming and killing our animals. Wildlife, livestock and pets face ever increasing threats to their health and welfare unless climate change is addressed as a priority.”

VfCA has four key policy asks of the next federal government:

  1. Develop an effective national climate action plan as a priority, with stronger net-zero emissions targets via deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and a rapid transition to renewable energy.
  2. Put an end to destruction of native vegetation, and to increase plantings of native vegetation.
  3. Strengthen environmental protections afforded by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, including incorporating a climate trigger [1].
  4. Support and lead the development and delivery of a national government-industry program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ruminants, cattle and sheep [2]. 

Australia is one of the most biologically diverse countries in the world.

That biodiversity is critical for the health of the environment. However we are in an extinction crisis that is worsening as our climate continues to warm and habitat is destroyed. The koala and the gang-gang cockatoo are two recent additions to the EPBC Act’s List of Threatened Fauna. The Great Barrier Reef has this year suffered yet another mass bleaching event, and the reef’s future depends on us reversing global warming. 

Farmers have suffered devastating livestock losses in this and recent years due to floods, fires, heatwaves and drought. Climate change continues to increase the frequency and severity of these events. These effects will worsen without national planning and programming. There is current and developing knowledge on sustainable farming and on how to reduce methane emissions from ruminant livestock. 

Companion animals are part of our lives, from dogs and cats to horses and backyard poultry. Heatwaves, with long periods of very hot days, are a risk for animals as much as people. In cities, temperatures are forecast to warm more than 4ºC by the end of the century unless strong climate action is taken now [3].

For further information or to arrange an interview, contact:

Al Foster Vander Elst, CEO, 0432 926 910


[1] Environment Protection and Biodiversity Protection Amendment (Climate Trigger) Bill 2020

[2] National Livestock Methane Program

[3] Maund M, Maund K, Marcus Jefferies M and Ware S (2021) Cities could get more than 4°C hotter by 2100. The Conversation, Friday 8 January 2021. a-we-urgently-need-a-national-planning-policy-152680 

About Veterinarians for Climate Change

VfCA is a national, not-for-profit, registered charity with over 1,700 members, mostly from the veterinary and broader animal care community.

We help tackle climate change by:

  • reducing emissions within the veterinary and animal care sectors,
  • encouraging members to advocate for strong climate policies and
  • inspiring the public to take and advocate for climate action.

Our Patron is Professor Peter Doherty, veterinary surgeon, Nobel Laureate and Australian of the Year in 1997. Thirty former Chief Veterinary Officers from all States and Territories work alongside us. We are evidence-based and informed by published scientific findings.


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