A Vote for Climate is a Vote for Health

2017 Political Party Scorecard on Climate Change and Health

Health starts not in the doctor’s office or the hospital, but with clean air and water and a safe climate. Well-designed climate action is a huge opportunity to address some of New Zealand’s biggest problems of health and fairness, but continued inaction is the biggest threat to population health of the 21st century.

We asked political Parties about their policies on climate change and interactions with health. Their responses and information on the Parties’ websites were rated by a group of climate change and health experts across seven areas.

The results reveal two things. When comparing parties, the Greens score highest, followed by Labour, and a number of other parties (Opportunities, Mana, Māori) have good policies in some areas. All other parties have policies that are modest or non-existent. The other key feature is that, on the policies available at the time, none of the parties is showing sufficient ambition for a healthy climate future.

Party rankings are detailed below. OraTaiao emphasises that a vote for climate is a vote for health.

The seven areas the Parties were assessed on were:

  • International leadership towards fair global action, both reducing emissions and adaptation
  • A just transition to a low carbon society within Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Climate change specific policy to reduce our national emissions
  • Sector specific policies to reduce emissions with known health benefits
  • Health sector specific policies to reduce emissions
  • Climate change adaptation policies, including for the health sector
  • Commitment to education and research about climate change and health

In each area we took the best score, then divided the score by three to sort policy responses. (e.g. if best score in an area was 12, then if Party scores 8 or above = green light; if Party scores below 4 = red light).

The following graph shows the total Party scores when all seven areas are combined:

 

 

How we arrived at these results

On 24 July all 15 Parties then registered with the Electoral Commission were asked:

  • What are your policies on climate change?
  • In relation to health and climate change, how does your party intend to link decision making on health and climate change?
  • In particular, in relation to fossil fuels, transport, food, and building heating, including hospitals and housing, in what ways do your policies link health and climate change?
  • In achieving a zero-carbon economy, and in adapting to the consequences of climate change, how does your party intend to provide an equitable and just transition in New Zealand for those communities and individuals affected, particularly Māori?
  • What is your policy on New Zealand’s contribution to international mitigation and adaptation, including international migration as a consequence of climate change?

Party websites were viewed between 8 and 15 August 2017 and text from the “Policies” page (or similar) was copied. Responses to questions and website material were anonymised before rating. Parties that did not reply to our questions within three working weeks were rated solely on the policies on their websites.

Raters were health specialists with knowledge of health and climate change; all of whom declared they were not members of any political party. The Parties were scored against criteria developed for Aotearoa New Zealand, based on published  international health and climate publications, including the World Health Organization (further details available on request). Each Party was rated independently by at least three assessors. Where there was substantial variation, assessors discussed their views and some raters revised some scores. Scores above give averages of raters for that Party.

This research has been carried out by Dr Gay Keating, Dr Alex Macmillan and Assoc Professor Simon Hales of Otago University, in conjunction with OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council. To see a copy of the report click here.

 


 

Further information on the criteria for assessing political party policies on climate change and health

 

Party policies were assessed in seven areas. Below is more detail on the make-up of those areas, and the basis on which the criteria were developed. The public health experts who did the assessments rated each party on each criterion on a scale 0 (nil) to 3 (excellent). The maximum possible score for a Party was 66 (excellent on all 22 criteria).

 

International leadership, financing and just global action, both mitigation and adaptation

  • International leadership on emissions reduction and equity (e.g. Pressing for warming below 1.5o, vary by historical responsibility)
  • Commitment to provide global mitigation financing (e.g. renewables), particularly for the Pacific, additional to existing development assistance
  • Global adaptation financing, especially for the Pacific, additional to existing development assistance
  • Planning for international migration of displaced communities, especially from the Pacific

 

Just transition within Aotearoa NZ

  • Just transition for communities and employees in affected industries e.g. Mining
  • Planning for internal migration of displaced communities, especially tangata whenua, that improves equity

 

Mitigation policies on climate change - general

  • Target zero NZ net carbon, all emissions, all sectors, before 2050
  • CC legislation, all-of-government approach, commission, etc established
  • Financial incentive stronger than current ETS
  • Responsible state sector investment (ie super fund, other Crown entities) excludes fossil fuels, supports renewables or clean technologies 
  • Fossil fuel extraction stopped

 

Mitigation policies on climate change – with health co-benefits

  • Energy Sector - climate and health co-benefits, and equity given priority in resource allocation and other policies
  • Agriculture Sector - climate and health co-benefits, and equity given priority in resource allocation and other policies
  • Transport Sector - climate and health co-benefits, and equity given priority in resource allocation and other policies
  • Housing Sector - climate and health co-benefits, and equity given priority in resource allocation and other policies

 

Mitigation policies on climate change - health related

  • Health services support and requirements for transition to low carbon while improving equity
  • Within health policies, climate change co-benefits and equity identified (air pollution, physical activity, breast feeding, nutrition, housing insulation)

 

Adaptation policies on climate change - general and health specific

  • Develop and fund national adaptation planning, with equity informed adaptation law changes e.g. RMA
  • Community emergency preparedness (incl severe weather events) includes climate change
  • Health sector (including health training and education) required and resourced to develop equity-informed adaptation plans

 

Education and Research

  • Support for education on health impacts, mitigation co-benefits, adaptation and equity
  • Support for research on health impacts, mitigation co-benefits, adaptation and equity

 

Original publications informing the development of criteria

1               Joint Health Professionals. Climate Change and Health: Health Professionals Joint Call for Action. 2015.  (accessed 22 Jun 2017).

2               Macmillan A, Jones R, Bennett H. New Zealand health professional organisations’ joint call for action on climate change and health. N Z Med J 2014;127:5–8.

3               Our Climate Declaration. 2017. http://www.ourclimatedeclaration.org.nz/the_declaration (accessed 22 Jun 2017).

4               Horsburgh N, Armstrong F, Mulvenna V. Framework for a national strategy on climate, health and well-being for Australia. 2017. http://www.caha.org.au/national-strategy-climate-health-wellbeing/ (accessed 23 Jun 2017).

5               Watts N, Adger WN, Ayeb-Karlsson S, et al. The Lancet Countdown: tracking progress on health and climate change. Lancet Published Online First: November 2016. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(16)32124-9

6               World Health Organization, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. A Global Overview: Climate and Health Country Profiles -2015. 2015.

7               Climate Consensus Coalition Aotearoa. Consensus on a Climate Change Response Strategy. 2017. http://climateconsensus.strikingly.com/(accessed 26 Jul 2017).

 


 

Authorised by Alex Macmillan, OraTaiao, 18 Frederick St, Dunedin 9054

 


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