Energy policy as a social determinant of Australian health equity

Colin MacDougall, Toni Delany-Crowe, Fran Baum, Matt Fisher, Michael McGreevy

    Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstractpeer-review


    Intersectoral action on social determinants of health to reduce health inequities requires policy research beyond the usual social and human services. We ask how Australian energy policy affects health equity.

    Document analysis and policy case studies on how goals, objectives and strategies of all Australian energy policies address equity.

    Energy policy affects health via risk from unreliable energy; difficult transitions to renewables; disproportionate effects on poorer people faced with high energy bills versus other basics; ecological degradation; cost pressures on businesses and governments; job losses and policy paralysis about renewable energy and climate change. Policy features subsidies for the disadvantaged; privatisation and artificial markets; differing geographical distribution of resources and high level political conflict about whether it can deliver on 3, or only 2, of the ’energy trilemma’ of reliability, affordability and ecological sustainability. Mining, industrial and political interests, powerful enough to orchestrate the downfall of Australian prime ministers, actively close policy links between health, climate change and energy. Bridging energy and health policy requires political support for market solutions involving renewables; community generation of renewable energy; solutions for rural and remote areas; and global treaties. Intergenerational equity is a strong policy lever.

    Health in All Policies approaches can creatively engage with the language and concepts of energy policy via the daily conditions of living, inequity and climate change. When it is difficult to engage, researchers can connect with non-government organisations who bridge sectors through simultaneous advocacy for equitable health, climate and energy policies.

    Key messages
    Powerful interests burn bridges between health equity and energy policy.

    Local and global policy levers harmonising terminology differences build bridges between energy, climate change and health equity.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)636-637
    Number of pages2
    JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
    Issue numberS4
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019


    • Health equity
    • Social determinants of health
    • Energy policy


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