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Climate change a health priority: Labor

The effects of climate change must be treated as a health priority alongside cancer and diabetes, Labor frontbencher Chris Bowen says.

In a speech to be delivered in Sydney on Wednesday night, Mr Bowen will point to estimates that 250,000 people a year will die as a direct result of global warming by 2030.

"Natural disasters are already occurring more regularly," he says.

"Vector-borne diseases will become more prevalent and widespread. Heatwaves, which already claim many lives in Australia will be more common and more severe."

Mr Bowen says Labor will make the policy change if it wins government but is calling on Health Minister Greg Hunt to act sooner.

He says the UK's National Health Service has a sustainable development strategy and several European countries have identified health as a priority area in their climate change adaption strategies.

"This is despite the fact we are more exposed than most, and our medical community is increasingly vocal on the issue," Mr Bowen says.

"As one senior doctor put it to me powerfully recently, 'Doctors listen to the science of the climate change and its health impacts like we listen to the science of vaccination and the impacts of not vaccinating.

"'They are as clear as each other, and ignoring the science of climate change would be akin to supporting anti-vaxxers'."

Research has also been released on Wednesday showing the risk of dangerous fires occurring more often in Australia as the atmosphere changes.

Extreme bushfire conditions will occur earlier, in late spring and not just in summer, the researchers from the University of New South Wales say.

It comes after a major report published in the Medical Journal of Australia outlined the expected health outcomes for a child born today, if the world continues with business as usual.

If temperatures continue to rise, children will be increasingly vulnerable to malnutrition, rising food prices, infectious diseases, air pollution, and extreme weather events.

The researchers have urged federal politicians to update health policies to include the role of a changing climate.

© AAP 2019