The NZ Climate and Health Council calls on the government to listen to New Zealanders and take real action on climate change.
For a country like New Zealand, standing on the sidelines waiting for everyone else to act first is not an option. Council spokesperson Dr Rhys Jones says: ‘New Zealand is climate-exposed with our agriculture and fishing industries, and we need the cooperation of the rest of the world. But we cannot underestimate the chilling message we send if New Zealanders, as some of the highest climate polluters in the world and with plentiful natural resources, refuse to develop a low emissions economy.’
The Emissions Trading Scheme is basically the only tool New Zealand is using to reduce our emissions. The Council states this week’s intended changes will lock us into extremely high levels of government debt for a trading scheme that will do nothing to reduce emissions. ‘Even the token five percent that big polluters are expected to pay can be sourced from overseas credits of dubious origin with no gain for New Zealand. If nothing else, surely a limit could be put on overseas carbon credits?’, suggests Dr Jones.
The Council says that climate change is widely recognised by world health authorities and leading medical journals as the biggest global health threat of the 21st century, and this is well- accepted by New Zealand medical professional bodies. Major threats will occur through water and food insecurity, damage to shelter and human settlements, population displacement and migration, extreme climatic events, changing patterns of disease, risks to security (including. war), and loss of economic potential. The threat to New Zealanders’ health and wellbeing is very real.
‘If you’re at a car crash scene, you don’t wait for everyone else to sort it as the Minister proposes. As New Zealanders, we get stuck in and work with others to do what needs to be done, fast. Climate change demands world action, fast, and that includes New Zealand’, ends Dr Jones.
OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council are senior doctors and other health professionals concerned with climate change as a serious public health threat. The Council is politically non-partisan. Climate change remains a clear and present danger of unprecedented scale, and is accepted by health authorities worldwide as the leading global health threat this century.