This section has our latest media work (including media releases, opinion editorials, radio and television interviews, and letters to the editor), as well as the latest submissions, publications, briefing papers and position statements.

To access older items, please click on the relevant links above. Media enquiries, see contact us.

UN experts urge New Zealand to protect children’s rights from climate change

14 October 2016

This week is World Climate Week. In the same United Nations Committee report damning New Zealand’s inaction on child poverty, the committee has also expressed its concern about the harmful impact of climate change on New Zealand children, especially Māori and Pacific children and children living in low-income families. 

OraTaiao, the New Zealand Climate and Health Council, welcomes the report from the UN experts. Dr Rhys Jones, Co-Convenor of OraTaiao, says the UN recommendations are sensible and important.

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Submission to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child 2016 Day of Discussion “Children’s Rights and the Environment"

Submission July 2016


OraTaiao is part of the growing global movement of health professionals concerned with climate change’s impact on health. We are a New Zealand nongovernmental organization of over 500 health professionals and associates, committed to justice in global health and health equity and especially concerned with the effects of climate change on indigenous peoples and Pacific islands.

We are very appreciative of the leadership from United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child and the opportunity to make a submission.

Our submission considers the serious and potentially catastrophic impact of climate change on the rights of children; how climate change disproportionately affects children; States’ legal obligations; the role of States in relation to the business sector including investment treaties; children as agents of change; and putting children’s rights at the heart of climate policy offers major opportunities to increase children’s enjoyment of their rights.

Our submission is informed by work we have done, including for the Action for Children and Youth Aotearoa alternative report on New Zealand to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.(1)(2)

Read full submission here.


Health professionals back call for a NZ Climate Act


30 June 2016

Health professionals support the call for a legal framework that accelerates New Zealand’s action to address climate change.

Youth organisation Generation Zero have announced they will work with experienced lawyers to write a ‘Zero Carbon Act’ requiring NZ to get to zero carbon emissions by 2050.

They argue that a ‘Zero Carbon Act’ will ensure that present and future governments take the actions that are urgently needed to improve our climate future.

“As health professionals we recognise climate change as a public health emergency,” says Dr Rhys Jones of OraTaiao: The NZ Climate and Health Council. “A NZ legal framework that ensures a rapid reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is critical if we are to respond effectively to this emergency,” says Dr Jones. 

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NZ Herald Article 'Climate Change a Medical Emergency'

NZ Herald Science Reporter on Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change, with comment from co-convenors Dr Alex Macmillan and Dr Rhys Jones.

Read here.


Otago Daily Times: Students push fossil fuel issue

Dr Alex Macmillan quoted in this article about academics and students pushing for Otago University to divest from fossil fuels, in the interests of climate protection.

Read here.


39 Dunedin Television 15/10/2015 Local lecturer wants bold action on climate change

Dr Alex Macmillan interview on Dunedin Television about the joint NZ health groups' 'Call for Action on Climate Change and Health'. 

See here.


NZ Herald: The Big Read: Kiwis weigh in on Paris climate conference

NZ Herald Article 11th December 2015 by Jamie Morton (Herald Science Reporter) with expert comment from Co-convenor Dr Alex Macmillan, who attended the Health Summit at the Paris climate negotiations in December 2015.

Read here


Interviews with Co-Convenor Dr Alex Macmillan

Waatea News 13/10/2015 Live interview with Willie Jackson on Paakiwaha - Health Call to Action on Climate Change.

Radio NZ 30/6/2015 Te Manu Korihi News: Govt urged to take action on climate change.


Wellington City Council’s Annual Plan 2016/17 and Carbon Plan Consultation

A: Summary
This submission introduces OraTaiao, describes the basis for our submission, and responds to WCC’s Draft Low Carbon Capital Plan and Draft Annual Plan 2016/17 consultation questions.

As discussed with Neil McInnes of WCC Democratic Services, the deadline for this written submission has been extended to Tuesday 3 May thank you. We would also like the opportunity to speak to this submission, thank you.

Our top ten points are:
1. Update to a ‘Carbon Zero Capital Plan’ as a clear focus for all Wellington’s investment decisions and policies – reflecting the new global climate zero-net-emissions action reality and the 1.5’C aspirational warming limit agreed in Paris a few months ago.

2. Update reduction targets to: 100% by 2050, 80% by 2040, 50% by 2030, and 20% by 2020, because earlier reductions are better and safer, and post-Paris, ‘developed’ countries lead.

3. Recognise that ‘realistic’ means ‘ambitious’ – Wellington’s plateaued emissions over last fifteen years mean we need much stronger deliberate action and investment now.

4. Urgently update adaptation planning with the latest range of local scenarios – MfE’s ‘0.5-0.8m sea level rise’ advice from eight years ago was always intended as a minimum to update.

5. Green all Wellington’s growth projects – urgently estimate the proposed runway extension’s emissions impact (WCC is responsible for climate impact, not the Environment Court), and include climate-damaging emissions from international travel growth in GHG Inventory.

6. Set a target to ‘warm up’ all Wellington’s vulnerable households over the next three years.

7. Plan for ‘Absolutely Accessible Wellington’ not ‘Let’s Get Welly Moving’ – our city’s tri-part transport core is safe active transport for all ages and affordable attractive all-electric public transport (light rail) for longer trips, complemented by widespread convenient car share.

8. Accelerate car share by sharing WCC’s fleet now, active partnership, ‘MCSR’ and more parks.

9. Electric and bio-fuelled private vehicles are for residual private transport needs – biofuel advocacy with investment now in electric charging and electrifying WCC’s fleet is useful.

10. Research with Wellington’s most vulnerable households on how WCC can support healthy and fair transitions to a zero net emissions future – co-creating initiatives (including cheaper public transport fares) to quickly put into practice with ongoing evaluation to improve.

Read full submission here


Health professionals welcome Royal Society’s Climate risks report, and highlight importance of risks to health

19 April 2016

Health professionals, in welcoming the Royal Society of NZ’s report today on climate change in New Zealand, are also concerned about the real health risks to New Zealanders from climate change and unhealthy responses to it, and how these may widen health gaps.

"We welcome the Royal Society’s clear call to climate action from six high risk areas: coastal margins, river flooding, freshwater availability, ocean chemistry change, ecosystems threats, and flow-on effects from global climate changes and responses,” says Dr Rhys Jones of OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council.

“Yet climate change should also be viewed as a global medical emergency and, importantly, addressing climate change can also be an unprecedented opportunity for real gains in health outcomes now.”

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‘Healthy Climate, Healthy People’


© 2015 OraTaiao: New Zealand Climate and Health Council. Some rights reserved