8 October 2018
Health professionals are intensifying calls for urgent emissions reduction in response to a report released today by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
The special report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, is the most comprehensive scientific assessment ever made of climate change. The report says 1.5°C is possible, but rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society are now needed. “The report makes it very clear that we must act urgently to keep global warming under 1.5°C for the sake of our health,” says Dr Alex Macmillan, Co-convenor of OraTaiao: The NZ Climate and Health Council.Read more
28 September 2018
OraTaiao welcomes the government’s amendment bill to stop offering new oil permits as a sound decision for NZ’s economy and our health. This bill is a step in the right direction to protect the health and wellbeing of all New Zealanders and meet our Paris obligations.
“It’s very clear that almost all the oil, gas and coal we already know about needs to stay in the ground - they can’t be burnt because of the implications for climate change and human health. This makes further exploration foolish,” said Dr Alex Macmillan, Co-convenor of OraTaiao: NZ Climate and Health Council after the introduction of the Crown Minerals (Petroleum) Amendment Bill on Monday.Read more
OraTaiao submission on the "Improvements to the NZ Emissions Trading Scheme: Consultation document". 24 September 2018
'We support the government’s intention to act with urgency and improve the ETS. We are, however, concerned by the highly technical nature of the consultation documents. We consider that currently, input is severely constrained from those who will bear not only the impacts of climate change, but also the impacts of climate change mitigation and adaptation policies. The ETS is complex, but because of the far-reaching implications for New Zealanders, it’s essential that every effort is madeto widen this discussion. We consider it essential that there is a clear statement of the principles upon which the ETS is based, and that this is developed with due democratic process.
'Our greatest concerns are firstly, that the ETS continues to fail to deliver reductions in greenhouse gas emissions because not all sectors are included, and/or because there is a weak pricingmechanism and/or there is no “sinking lid” on the number of units being auctioned. Secondly, weare concerned that the ETS will increase social and health inequities – this issue can be mitigated through good recycling of revenue to support a low-carbon transition for low-income, Māori andPacific households. Thirdly, we are concerned about corruption in the ETS process, through the purchasing of overseas credits.'
Read full submission here.
Government climate and health equity priorities must prompt a deeper re-think of health and healthcare for the 21st century
Editorial by Dr Alex Macmillan and Dr Rhys Jones. The New Zealand Medical Journal 31 August 2018, Vol 131 No 1481.
'This year, in an historic move, the Minister of Health issued letters of expectation to all DHBs which included a directive for action by DHBs to address climate change, together with a priority to reduce health inequities. The new climate change requirement recognises that the health sector is not only a major contributor to the greatest public health issue facing us, but also has the potential to show leadership in addressing climate change in ways that protect and promote health. It can be put in the context of healthcare ethics, particularly that it is unethical to provide healthcare while also harming health through environmental pollution. For this reason, accounting for environmental impacts of healthcare is enshrined in the legislation governing District Health Boards.'
NZMJ subscriber content here.
Liz Springford letter. Discusses OECD report on the economic consequences of climate change. The Dominion Post, 31 July 2018.
Interview with Dr Rhys Jones and anaesthetist Dr Matthew Jenks. New Zealand Anaesthesia: The Magazine of the NZ Society of Anaesthetists, August 2018. Read here.
9 August 2018
A report released this week on the dangers of heading towards “Hothouse Earth” makes it clear that climate change is now a public health emergency.
'Just as we would react to the threat of pandemic, we need to speed up our efforts to tackle emissions and protect health,' says Dr Rhys Jones, Co-convenor of OraTaio: The NZ Climate and Health Council.
The report, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, states, 'the Earth System may be approaching a planetary threshold that could lock in a continuing, rapid pathway towards much hotter conditions — Hothouse Earth.'Read more
OraTaiao submission on the Zero Carbon Bill. 19 July 2018
'We welcome the Bill, which is not just crucial to reducing New Zealand emissions, but is also some of the most important health legislation of our generation. OraTaiao, alongside other experts in climate change and health, considers that tackling climate change is potentially the greatest global health opportunity this century. With that in mind, our submission is focused on the potential health gains and the other co-benefits from New Zealand reducing its emissions.'
The submission also states: 'A healthy Zero Carbon Act is an essential prescription for New Zealand’s health and well-being, and we strongly support it. Health workers call for a Zero Carbon Act that’s fast, fair, firm andfounded on Te Tiriti – with health at its heart. In summary, we want the target of net zero emissions across all greenhouse gases by 2040 set in law now.'
Read full submission here.
Dr Andrea Forde, Dr Scott Metcalfe, and policy analyst Liz Springford, set out the importance of tackling climate change.
6 July 2018
Today members of 18 leading health professional organisations met with the Minister for Climate Change, Hon. James Shaw, to add their collective voices of support for a strong Zero Carbon Act.
The meeting, hosted by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, included organisations representing tens of thousands of nurses, doctors and other health professionals. Attendees were united in their call for decisive action on climate change to protect and improve health and fairness for New Zealanders.
“There is a strong consensus among health professionals that NZ needs a robust law to get to net zero greenhouse gas emissions,” says Dr Rhys Jones, co-convenor of OraTaiao, the NZ Climate & Health Council.Read more