VfCA talks about NSW's Net Zero Future Bill

"We've been strongly advocating for this, and for increasing our targets as quickly as possible, so that we can try to avert the worst effects of climate change"


Board Director Dr. Helen Scott-Orr chatted with Jac Underwood on 2BS Gold FM on 30 November after the NSW Parliament passed its climate change Net Zero Future bill, and the impact of climate change on pets. 


Read the transcript of the interview below:

Jac Underwood  00:00

The people of New South Wales are animal lovers. 69% of households own a pet. But have we ever stopped to think about the effects of climate change? On our pets? We welcome to the program now spokesperson for Vets for Climate Action. Board Director rather Dr. Helen Scott-Orr, Good afternoon. Great to have you accompany you welcome this the passing of the bill in New South Wales parliament today and the further action for a 70% reduction by 2035. Is that right?


Dr Helen Scott-Orr  00:33

We certainly do. Yes, we've been strongly advocating for this, and for increasing our targets as quickly as possible, so that we can try to avert the worst effects of climate change.


Jac Underwood  00:47

And we talk a lot about human health and human impact. I don't think I've ever heard the angle of our pets. Tell us a little bit about the work you do.


Dr Helen Scott-Orr  00:57

Well, you know, vets are obviously animal lovers and work with the community to support animals of all kinds. So in terms of pets, obviously, they are affected in a rather similar way to humans. In the you know, if dogs or cats are left in, in a car, just like children on a hot day, they can die of heat exposure. But recently, it's become apparently in the last few years, particularly that in the heat of summer, dogs walking down down streets can burn their pads on the on the footpath. That's how hot it is. We all we work with with the veterinary profession to try to increase their sustainability and reduce their own emissions through a program called the climate care program. And we're gradually and we've developed this program from a standing start a few years ago, and we're gradually encouraging practices to to enroll with it and achieve their net zero targets. And they might provide a bit of an example for other professions as well as for the pattern. And we also work with some advocating to politicians and opinion leaders as to improving ScienceBase and strengthen targets for climate action. \


Jac Underwood  02:32

Just thinking locally about some events, of course, the black summer bushfires 2019 2020 bushfires in the Blue Mountains area and further afield in the state. Lots of wildlife lost in that also recent flooding events or 12 months ago, now, a lot of stock were caught up in that event as well.


Dr Helen Scott-Orr  02:53

Absolutely. And we have to recognize that this fits, it's not just it's not just pets that are affected. Wildlife, as you mentioned, are hugely affected. And the ongoing impact, it's estimated that since I, since I was 21, I'm not a spring chicken, but since I was 21 70%, of the world's wildlife has disappeared, you know, and this is part of deforestation and, and human impingement on their on their areas, but but part of it is climate change, and it's forecast to accelerate. And similarly, with livestock, you know, we have a huge reliance around the world on livestock for for food production. And as part of a balanced diet, and the lifestyle card terribly affected, as you mentioned with the floods, droughts and so on.


Jac Underwood  03:53

It's an incredibly high number of threatened species in New South Wales. It's over 1000 I think it's 1043.


Dr Helen Scott-Orr  04:00

That's right. Yes. And the the many of them are very specialized to different particular habitats. And as temperatures become warmer species that might have been surviving in, say, the snowy mountains or in Thai areas, may see to be able to live there because the plants on would say, Well, I just don't grow there anymore, because it's too harsh, or the seasons changed so much. And these can be these these are often small animals that are the basis to change the larger animals and birds and, and so on. So they have impact throughout through the ecosystem.


Jac Underwood  04:44

Are you still practicing as a bit today?


Dr Helen Scott-Orr  04:47

No, now I've I've been in in government service for a long time. I was with the Department of Primary Industries for for many years. And one point I was the Chief Veterinary Officer in New South Wales for quite a few years.


Jac Underwood  05:04

Yeah, wonderful. Yeah, we need more vets.


Dr Helen Scott-Orr  05:09

Yes. And it is difficult because there's tremendous pressure on them. Just did a review into the marine education not long ago and the stresses on on it's just enormous. And there is a shortage. It's very difficult to find enough beds, particularly in rural areas. It's just so difficult. We have to realize that now 87% of our population is urbanized here in Australia and also in New Zealand, that a great majority of people are denied. But we still need that out in the country, and it's getting more difficult to find them. Yeah,


Jac Underwood  05:54

it says any vets listening right now. You are wonderful. And thank you for what you do.


Dr Helen Scott-Orr  06:01

Yes, I think there's a tremendous will to do, you know, when when we have these episodes, like the fires, you find practicing vets, you know, volunteering to just go and work in emergency centers and, and run free services for all the wildlife that are coming down happened in the in the mismo floods. And it happened also on Kangaroo Island down in bushfires there a few years ago. You know, the, the veterinary profession steps up without pay to help wildlife in emergencies. repeatedly. And obviously, they do they start doing that science because I love animals and they're pretty traumatized by the losses that they see in these major climate events.


Jac Underwood  06:55

Well, this this bill has passed and some ambitious targets. So we'll see if we can keep on track with them. Thank you so much for your time on the program this afternoon. Take care.


Dr Helen Scott-Orr  07:06

Thanks Jac. Okay. See by. That's


Jac Underwood  07:10

Vets for Climate Action Board Director Dr. Helen Scott-Orr there having a chat about the New South Wales parliamentary Parliament rather passing its climate change Net Zero future bill which includes a net zero target by 2050 and a net zero target by 2035 of 70%.