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.


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


Submission to Greater Wellington Regional Council’s draft Annual Plan 2016/2017

A: Summary

OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council is submitting in response to the Greater Wellington Regional Council’s draft Annual Plan 2016/2017, available at This submission starts by summarising our main recommendations, introduces OraTaiao, and then gives more detail on our recommendations.
We would like the opportunity to speak to our submission (mainly on topic 3), thank you.

Our seven main recommendations are:

1. Use our finite rates resource for fast infrastructure investment for our zero emissions future – before adaptation costs accelerate over this
2. Quickly put in place the three essential components of our region’s zero emissions transport: i. safe walking and cycling for most journeys under 2km (and preferably longer) ii. frequent, reliable and affordable public transport for longer journeys and for people with physical disabilities or with young dependents iii. a widespread car share vehicle network – to help grow both active and public transport
3. Investigate light rail as the step change to deliver zero emissions transport at sufficient scale
4. Electrify GWRC’s vehicle fleet with fleet cars available for hourly public hire, accelerating car share growth to the hundreds of vehicles we need.
5. Seize opportunities such as ‘Let’s Get Wellington Moving’ (better named ‘Fair Affordable Access’) and encourage cross-sectoral policies and funding that increase accessibility of jobs, study, recreation, goods and services, whilst increasing the region’s population health and resilience.
6. Research (and action) into transport/access barriers for our region’s most vulnerable urban households – so zero emissions policies increase fairness.
7. Avoid being locked into increasing costs of maintaining road access to Wellington’s low-lying Lyall Bay airport, and dramatic increases in climate-damaging aviation emissions.

Read full submission here.


Submission to the Environment Select Committee on the “Resource Legislation Amendment Bill 2015”

Executive Summary

Thank you for the opportunity to submit on the proposed changes to the Resource ManagementAct, the most important piece of legislation pertaining to environmental sustainability in New Zealand. On balance, while we understand the need to clarify and simplify the RMA and find a good balance between national and local interests in resource management, we do not support the proposed amendments, as they do not address the recognised issues with the RMA in ways that strengthen its fundamental purpose as a procedural piece of legislation that supports the sustainable management of natural resources. We make 10 specific recommendations in our submission. They are summarised here:

Recommendation 1: That section 70A Application to climate change of rules relating to discharge of greenhouse gases be repealed, allowing regional councils to consider greenhouse gas emissions as a polluting discharge to air when considering resource consent applications.

Recommendation 2: That the select committee process address the poor explanations made of the amendments to the public, and the inadequate consultation process through improved drafting and public documents as well as a series of public meetings and improved public input about the changes to this crucial piece of legislation.

Recommendation 3: The Select Committee needs to see National Policy Statements and National Environmental Standards as a bare minimum and reject this proposed amendment.

Recommendation 4: Reject any proposed amendment that allows the Minister or central government to remove council bylaws through an undefined argument of “unreasonableness” as an undermining of the fundamental purpose of the Resource Management Act.

Recommendation 5: Strengthen this proposed amendment to specifically mention the need to adapt to the already locked in impacts of climate change, including the need to develop regional climate change mitigation plans in partnership with other relevant agencies (such as public health units and civil defence).

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Submission to the TPPA Select Committee

A: Summary

This submission introduces OraTaiao: The NZ Climate and Health Council, describes the basis for our submission, and provides links to two NZ Herald opinion-editorials and a peer-reviewed medical journal paper that elaborate on our concerns.

Our main concern is:

Climate change is a major issue of human health and survival. It requires urgent action globally and in New Zealand (NZ) to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions – particularly the emissions from fossil fuels. The TPPA will hinder the ability of NZ (and the other signatory nations) to pass policy and regulation to achieve this.

Read full submission here.


Submission on the ETS 2015/16 Review - Priority Issues

A: Summary

This submission introduces OraTaiao, describes the basis for our submission, and attaches two previous related submissions, then responds to the first eight questions of the ETS 2015/16 Priority Issues Review.

Our two main points are:
1. NZ needs an overall plan to get to a zero emissions economy around three decades from now, where the ETS is one tool amongst a suite of emissions reductions policies and programmes.
2. The cost-benefit analysis underpinning the ETS review needs to include the benefits of action – including health co-benefits which can be experienced relatively soon.

B: Who we are

OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council (OraTaiao, The Council) is an incorporated society of over 420 health professional members who understand that climate change is fundamentally a threat to human wellbeing and are concerned by this, but also understand that well-designed climate action can bring more immediate benefits to health and fairness.

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Submission on Update of the NZ Health Strategy

OraTaiao welcomes the opportunity to discuss climate change implications for health and health equity with the Ministry and we would like to present an oral submission. We agree that the health of our population is a positive investment and fundamental to New Zealanders’ wellbeing.

We appreciate that the words ‘climate change’ are on page 5 of the Future Direction document under ‘Global challenges’ – ‘the health and social consequences of climate change’.

However, we are concerned that there is no other mention of climate change throughout the Strategy Future Directions or Road Map. The Strategy fails to make the connections between long-term health conditions and well-designed climate action which can reduce the prevalence of these conditions, and fails to consider the profound threat of already committed climate changes to New Zealanders’ health, health equity and our health services.

Read full submission here.


Submission on MfE INDC Consultation

Submission on Government’s consultation on setting New Zealand’s post-2020 climate change target.  OraTaiao calls for:

  • Inclusion of health and fairness in the assessment of costs and benefits.
  • Committment to a global zero carbon target by 2050 - with NZ gazetting this zero carbon target now to replace our current 2050 target, and setting annual steps from 2015 to get there well before 2050 and stay within the overall global carbon budget.
  • A pledge of at least 40% cuts by 2030 in our gross domestic greenhouse gas emissions compared with 1990, towards at least 95% by 2050.
  • An immediate moratorium on fossil fuel exploration, and pledges to phase out existing extraction in the next decade.
  • Credible cross-party plans in the INDC, with a legislated independent Climate Commission to ensure NZ meets its targets and stays within the global carbon budget.
  • Protection of health in the climate-vulnerable Pacific region from the preventable impacts of climate change.

Along with the following health specific requests:

  • Commitment by the Minister of Health to attend the International Climate and Health Summit (which is planned alongside the Paris climate negotiations in December 2015);
  • A Parliamentary climate change and health summit;
  • Health sector leadership on mitigation and adaptation to locked-in climate impacts on health;
  • Involvement of public health expertise in climate mitigation policy development to maximise opportunities for health and fairness and minimise negative unintended consequences;
  • Health (including equity) Impact Assessment (HIA) used routinely to inform key climate-relevant policies.

Read full submission here. Appendix here.


Submission on WCC’s Draft Long Term Plan 2015-2025

OraTaiao submission states 'the Council’s priority must be creating the infrastructure to support the just transition to a low emissions economy, with particular attention to the most vulnerable households in Wellington. We consider better understanding the implications of climate changes – not just sea level rises and extreme weather events – for our Wellington economy and communities as critical.'

Read full submission here.


Submission on the Greater Wellington Climate Change Strategy

OraTaiao 'welcomes Greater Wellington Regional Council’s Climate Change Strategy. We are concerned that the strategy under-emphasises mitigation – reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. There are many sound reasons why rapidly reducing the region’s greenhouse gas emissions is the best course for the region’s economic and social wellbeing – including future-proofing our region and securing real health gains in the short and longer term'.

Read full submission here.


‘Healthy Climate, Healthy People’


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