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.

DHB Successes in Environmental Sustainability

DHB Successes in Environmental Sustainability. A Report to Community and Public Health Canterbury District Health Board, by Dr Gay Keating.

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Health professionals support legal challenge against government’s climate policy

27 June 2017

New Zealanders’ health is at stake in a court case challenging the government over its failure to tackle climate change. Law student Sarah Thomson is taking on the Minister for Climate Change Issues, arguing that New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction target is illegal.

As part of the global Paris Climate Agreement, our government chose a weak target of reducing climate-damaging emissions by 11% (below 1990 levels) by 2030. It plans to achieve this mostly by paying other countries to take action.

Ms Thomson’s case argues that the government’s analysis in setting this target was illogically one-sided.  Costs of emissions-reduction action were counted, but the wider gains from climate action and the very real costs of climate changes were ignored. 

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OraTaiao submission on Government Policy Statement on Land Transport 2018/19-2027/28

Submission 31/3/2107

OraTaiao submission on Government Policy Statement on Land Transport 2018/19-2027/28 

OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council wishes to submit to the Ministry of Transport on the Government Policy Statement on Land Transport for 2018/19 – 2027/28 (GPS2018).

Climate changes fundamentally threaten human health and wellbeing; yet well-designed climate action can mean greater health and fairness in both the short and longer term. Transport is integral to this. There are close links between transport, climate and health, where eg.: 

  • active and sustainable modes of transport (such as walking and cycling) positively affect health; 
  • the current reliance on private motor vehicle transport has negative impacts on health through greenhouse gas emissions, road traffic crashes, air and noise pollution and increased sedentary time.1 

This submission relates to the GPS2018 and: 

  • acting on climate change
  • prioritising active transport
  • prioritising public transport
  • the opportunity costs of poorly cost-effective roading choices including lost health gains
  • the importance of making transport user hierarchies and the NZ Health Strategy integral to GPS2018's Strategic direction and Objectives. 

Read the submission here.

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Health professionals welcome today’s Zero Carbon Act launch

10 April 2017

Health professionals congratulate Generation Zero on today’s Zero Carbon Act campaign launch.  

The Act is designed to reduce New Zealand’s long-lived greenhouse gas emissions to net zero within a generation. This means by 2050 our dangerous climate pollution will have been reduced enough to be completely absorbed by increased forests.

The Zero Carbon Act – modelled on the UK’s successful Climate Change Act passed by a conservative-led government in 2008 – will bind future governments to genuine action that protects New Zealand.

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Māori health leader speaks about climate change at COP22

17 November 2016

Māori health leader speaks about climate change and the right to health at COP22

World leaders are meeting in Marrakesh to bring to life the promises made to limit climate change in the Paris Agreement. Earlier this week Rhys Jones, a Māori doctor and co-convenor of OraTaiao: The NZ Climate & Health Council, called for climate action that protects human rights, especially indigenous rights, children’s rights and the right to health.

Dr Jones is in Morocco at COP22 participating in an event hosted by the World Health Organization and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

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Hospitals should not be smoking a giant cigarette

12 November 2016

Despite New Zealand being a signatory to the new Paris climate agreement, the Ministry of Health is considering the use of coal in Christchurch Hospital’s boiler. OraTaiao, the New Zealand Climate and Health Council and the New Zealand Medical Students’ Association (NZMSA) say to do so would be a mistake for the climate and for health. Although coal burning may achieve short-term financial savings, it is a false economy. Coal burning is inconsistent with the Ministry’s legislated responsibility to protect health. 

OraTaiao and the NZMSA are jointly urging the Ministry to support Christchurch Hospital’s switch to lower emission wood waste rather than coal.

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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.

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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.

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‘Healthy Climate, Healthy People’


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