Cross-party climate action is essential health investment

“New Zealand is missing out on too many health opportunities by leaving real climate planning to just a couple of political parties” says Dr Alex Macmillan, co-convenor of OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council.

Today the Green Party has launched ‘Yes we can! A plan for significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions’, which demonstrates how New Zealand could achieve a 40% reduction in climate pollution by 2030 in an affordable way.  The Council would like to see strong climate leadership shared by all political parties.

“As world-leading medical journal The Lancet recently reported, a business-as-usual approach to climate change will undo the important health and life expectancy gains of the last half century.  The Lancet also described tackling climate change as potentially the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century” says Dr Macmillan.

“That means  we need to mainstream political leadership to decarbonise our economy and put health and fairness at the centre of strong climate action.  “Those that will be hardest hit in New Zealand will include Māori, Pacific people, children, the elderly, and low income groups” says Dr Macmillan. It is vital that plans to tackle climate change share any costs and benefits fairly.

“The world is moving to a zero emissions future – yet at the moment New Zealand is competing with Canada to take the least action, leaving the health of all New Zealanders vulnerable. Every year we delay is costing New Zealand in missed health opportunities and wasted investments” says Dr Macmillan. “Both the health impacts and opportunities need to be counted in our climate plans.”

 “Addressing climate change brings huge opportunities to improve health and fairness in New Zealand” says Dr Macmillan.
“Housing insulation, better diets, clean energy, great public transport and safer walking and cycle-ways will all give a double benefit. They create immediate health gains, especially to New Zealand's poorest families, and also lead the way on reducing greenhouse gas emissions” says Dr Macmillan.

“With real health gains and health sector savings for New Zealanders, a healthy response to our changing climate at the global climate talks in Paris this December is the obvious investment for all political parties”, ends Dr Macmillan.

ENDS

OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council
www.orataiao.org.nz

Media Spokesperson: Dr Alex Macmillan, Mob: 021 322 625
Dr Alex Macmillan (alex.macmillan@otago.ac.nz) is a Public Health Physician and Senior Lecturer in Environmental Health at the University of Otago Dunedin, and Co-convenor of OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council.

OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate & Health Council comprises senior doctors and other health professionals concerned with climate change as a serious public health threat. They also promote the positive health gains that can be achieved through action to address climate change. See: www.orataiao.org.nz


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