Healthy climate is an essential prescription for New Zealand

26 October 2017

Health professionals say a report released today by the Royal Society of New Zealand should be a wake-up call about the wide-ranging health impacts of climate change.

The report, Human Health Impacts of Climate Change for New Zealand, brings together an extensive body of evidence, highlighting the profound implications of climate change for health and quality of life.

OraTaiao: The NZ Climate and Health Council Co-convenor Dr Rhys Jones explains: “our health and wellbeing depend on clean water and air, healthy food, adequate shelter, safe temperatures, disease-protection, stable communities and manageable stress levels. Climate change affects all these things.”

“It’s particularly concerning because climate change will widen already unacceptable health disparities, with vulnerable groups being most seriously affected,” says Dr Jones.

Last week’s Ministry for the Environment and Statistics NZ report revealed that New Zealand had increased long-living carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions by 64% since 1990.

“New Zealand’s high emissions economy is damaging our health now and poses a serious threat to future health and wellbeing,” says Dr Jones. “These reports provide clear evidence that New Zealand can no longer afford to delay action to reduce emissions.”

“Tackling climate change also represents an incredible opportunity for better and fairer health outcomes for New Zealanders.”

“For example, even just a five percent shift from car to cycle for short trips would save more than 120 lives each year and reduce climate pollution. Insulating more NZ homes means fewer days off school and work, and fewer hospital admissions – and again, less climate damage.”

“To achieve these win-win outcomes, health and equity must be at the centre of decision making as we transition to a zero-carbon society. New Zealand’s climate policy must be underpinned by Te Tiriti o Waitangi and prioritise the most vulnerable groups in society.”

“It’s critical that we make fairer, healthier choices for New Zealanders right now, and for the generations that follow,” says Dr Jones.



OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council (OraTaiao, The Council) is an incorporated society of over 500 health professionals calling for urgent and fair climate action. We know that climate changes fundamentally threaten human health and wellbeing – and that well-designed climate action can mean greater health and fairness now and in the longer term. Within its membership, OraTaiao has some of the world’s leading climate-health experts. We link with international climate-health organisations internationally, plus other New Zealand health groups. See more at

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