July 2021 Newsletter Pānui

July 2021 Newsletter Pānui

Kia ora 

It’s becoming a bit redundant to comment on what a busy month it’s been, so I’ll move straight onto welcoming July’s many new members, including organisational members: Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM); Ngā Toi Ora, Northland public health unit; and S23M, software and consulting company.

This month’s newsletter stands out in that it features an unprecedented array of mahi by numerous OraTaiao members and a greater shift towards you, our supporting members. 

As our membership, and subsequently, our influence as an organisation grows, OraTaiao is committed to maximising your passion and knowledge to bring about real change in the climate/health sector.

We are extremely pleased to see increasing debate around the health risks of water pollution from nitrates - limiting this pollution will have health, water, and climate benefits. The latter part of this year will be dominated by COP26, and we will increase our advocacy to ensure Aotearoa makes a just and ambitious contribution.

We will also continue to seek - and take steps to more actively model - the inclusivity required to ensure a just transition as changes occur (see International news for a piece from The Conversation on decolonising ecological science). Hold us to this commitment: challenge us, point out ways we may need to ‘deconstruct our biases,’ and use info@orataiao as a means of linking to and sharing with us and each other each month via this newsletter, our monthly communication channel: describe your workplace and personal successes, send links to your published work and invitations to seminars and gatherings; we’ll feature all we can.

In aid of greater interaction and active advocacy we’re introducing 3 new sections here:‘Options for action’, 'Food that’s fair', and 'A bit more about that'. Over time, we’ll keep an eye on the readership analytics but we'd also like to hear from you whether you tautoko these additions or would find something else more useful.

Through individual and collective efforts, the power of the health sector’s voice is growing. We invite you to raise yours. To all those celebrating Cook Islands Language week, 1/8-7/8, Kia orana!

Ngā mihi, noho ora mai

Dr Dermot Coffey, OraTaiao Co-Convenor

July 2021 Newsletter


Update on OraTaiao activities
National happenings
International news
Food that’s fair (new)
Options for actions (new)
A bit more about that (new)
Good news, interesting links, books

Update on OraTaiao activities

The Climate Change Commission, in the first of new regular meetings with NGOs, expressed openness to reconsidering advice - including health co-benefits - and potentially setting up a health advisory group. Reporting back from the 12 July meeting, OraTaiao Executive Board member, Summer Wright, and long-time member Liz Springford, also said Treasury’s He Ara Waiora guides the Commission's work - urging more mātauranga Research & Development and incorporating Te Ao Māori across government. Resourcing and capacity to respond to fast-changing climate science are challenges for this very small agency. 

OraTaiao voices concern over rising nitrate levels in drinking water, citing the increasingly clear link between this pollution and bowel cancer.

OraTaiao media statement
Click here for additional information on water quality issues and their causes
Read earlier indepth coverage on the topic here 

Photo by Jana Sabeth on Unsplash

‘Operating in a Climate Crisis: A State-of-the-Science Review of Life Cycle Assessment within Surgical and Anesthetic Care’, a review co-authored by OraTaiao member Jono Drew, explores health care provision's role as a significant driver of environmental pollution, with surgical and anaesthetic services among the most resource-intensive components of the health system.

Find the article here.

‘Nursing And Climate Action In Aotearoa New Zealand 2021’, written by OraTaiao Executive Board member, Rebecca Sinclair, reminds readers that hauora (health and wellbeing) is one of the taonga guaranteed to all citizens under Te Tiriti o Waitangi and urges each one of New Zealand’s 60,000 strong nursing workforce to view the climate crisis as a broader public health issue, and to determine both what changes could be made in their area of practice and ways they can contribute to the countless advocacy, education, mitigation, and adaptation efforts for which they are uniquely qualified. Rebecca, RN PgDip SCPHN, is a Public Health Nurse and member of the College of Nurses Aotearoa.

Find the article here on page 26.

OraTaiao Executive Board Member, Summer Wright, offered an in-depth written description of OraTaiao while welcoming the New Zealand Nurses Organisation as an organisational member to OraTaiao. Her article appeared in the June edition of TE PUAWAI The Blossoming.

Find the article here on page 8.

Global Climate Health Alliance publicly released their climate health scorecard for the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) of 66 countries revealing New Zealand at rock bottom – scoring zero points – alongside just 3 other nations: Australia, Iceland, and Norway.

Read the OraTaiao media statement in response here.
Read about the Scorecard here

Image source used with permission.

National happenings

NZ Rugby drops the ball - big time - in entering a sponsorship deal with petrochemical company INEOS. OraTaiao is extremely disappointed to see the announcement of the deal which demonstrates unjustified acceptance of a company involved in some of the most damaging fossil fuel activities around the world. It is deeply ironic that they will now face public protests again on the 40th anniversary of the 1981 Springboks Tour. Greenpeace names INEOS as 'one of only 20 companies responsible for half of single-use plastic items thrown away globally - and a significant player in the oil and gas sector.' Appropriately, given the relationship completely devalues any social legitimacy the All Blacks and NZ Rugby have created over the years, INEOS will be advertised on the back of the All Blacks' playing shorts.

Read the news and Greenpeace's reaction here.

Photo by Brian Yurasits on Unsplash

The ‘ute tax’ has been credited in part with provoking the 16 July nationwide protests covered here. Under the Clean Car Discount package announced in June, starting January 2022, buyers of some new and used high emissions imports (e.g. the popular Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger models) will pay a fee ranging from $540 to almost $3000. Farmers, other ute drivers, and supporters cite issues of those impacted feeling unheard, undervalued, and overregulated following legislation they say unfairly targets and burdens them. Cited by Government as 'the best policy to increase low emissions vehicle uptake in New Zealand', the fees on higher emitting vehicles will fund discounts on electric, hybrid and low emission vehicles. Transport emissions are the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in New Zealand and the fee / rebate scheme, common overseas and recommended here by both the Productivity and Climate Change Commissions, is estimated to 'prevent up to 9.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.'

Find the Government press release here (includes a link to EV buyers guide).

Alongside thorny equity considerations, another facet of the complex emissions’ reduction issue - health and safety - must factor in national discussions; these are outlined here in a background paper by OraTaiao member, Alistair Woodward, who points out utes and SUVs emit 1.5 times more carbon dioxide than other vehicles while also posing risks that go beyond emissions. 

Photo by John Cameron on Unsplash

The injustice of food insecurity is highlighted in this likely-to-have-been-overlooked article arguing food banks in New Zealand have wrongly become normalised yet should continue to be seen as a symbol of injustice even when connected to ‘other social justice issues – waste reduction and climate change mitigation.’
Read the article here.

Find more information on equity and food systems below.

Photo by Nico Smit on Unsplash

International news

The BBC dubs The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) upcoming report required reading for many attending COP26. Due 9 August, this latest scientific summary is the most comprehensive assessment on the state of global heating since 2013 and is expected to have a big impact. Read more here.

Photo by Ilse Orsel on Unsplash

Decolonising ecological science and a diversity of worldviews on human–environment relations are both necessary for a just transition to a more sustainable world. Continuing to follow western-centred approaches will restrict research and limit ecology’s ability to address environmental crises ‘because it fails to recognise a diversity of people, knowledge systems and solutions.’

Read about five shifts to decolonise ecological science here

Photo by Nico Smit on Unsplash

Food that’s fair (New this month)

Acknowledging the importance of what comes out of our mouths as well as what goes in them. OraTaiao strives to raise awareness of the global food system driving both the climate crisis and the growing burden of noncommunicable disease. Given the intersections of sustainable, healthy food, food security, and equitable health outcomes, this section will draw together information to support advocacy, advice, and personal lifestyle choices.

True there … True here. ‘International research has highlighted the climate and health co-benefit opportunity inherent in widespread uptake of plant-based diets.’ Research by OraTaiao members, Jono Drew, Christina Cleghorn, Alex Macmillan and others, finds the same holds true in a New Zealand context, describing potential for substantially less climate-pollution, health gains as high as 1.5 million quality-adjusted life-years, and health care system cost savings ranging from NZ$14–20 billion. ‘We should be rapidly looking for ways to effectively support our population in making eating pattern changes.’

The NZ research on healthy and climate-friendly eating patterns can be found here

Image used with author's permission

Q: Ignoring the savings for a moment, consider more research - co-authored by OraTaiao member Bruce Kidd, and featured last month – that showed increased financial costs to whā nau shifting from ‘current’ to plant-based diets; as proponents of healthy, equitable change, how do we best advocate to ensure costs are apportioned and benefits are accrued in an equitable way?

See the original research here or find a summary here

Additional information: New Zealand diet optimised for health, cost and climate protection - YouTube

Image source 

Links to share widely

Find ways to use it all (think homemade apple cider vinegar including seeds and peels) at lovefoodhatewaste.co.nz

Focus on what’s in season to keep costs down and find recipes* at 5+ A Day® Fresh Fruit and Vegetables - New Zealand.

*Idea for easy advocacy: contact [email protected] to offer your own nutritious recipes for puha or taro  (the site doesn’t offer any); an important element of inclusivity is all of us seeing ourselves reflected in our everyday surroundings – including national sites featuring food advice.

Options for actions (New this month)

Last month we shared an encouraging stat: just 3.5% of an organisation need to be on side with a movement or intention to make significant change! We also introduced the acronym AHH! as an mnemonic for applying to our lives and our work:

Aromatawi  = assess for bias, inequities, and racism; for wasteful practices, for inefficient processes and missed opportunities)
Hanga = create new partnerships, policies, procurement contracts, programmes; new  solutions that honour our commitment to Māori, to equity and to te Tiriti, to our climate, to decarbonisation, and supporting health. Decolonisation and decarbonisation.
Horapa = disseminate the ideas, korero, share the new ways…

This section will be a regular feature bringing together practical ways to contribute. From climate gatherings and conferences to petitions; from having korero with the Climate Change Commission or your own colleagues, to partnering on submissions or starting workplace initiatives. This section calls for increased advocacy, input, and leadership from our members; occasionally it may feature an advert for work. Make the most of your skills and passion by digging in at the coal face 😉grass roots level; share your successes, your ideas, and your published pieces on / relating to: decarbonising and decolonising the health sector, an equitable transition to sustainability - particularly regarding active transport, our food system, or that which has direct health impacts e.g. air and water quality. 

? Consider the controversy over taxing some vehicles and discounting others: how can you/we advocate for effective and equitable incentives while increasing uptake of active transport?

Photo by Volkan Olmez on Unsplash

Consider the climate impact of your Kiwisaver account; it could be significant. Read more here

Read the story of OraTaiao advocacy and the Medical Assurance Society divesting from fossil fuels in 2017.

Petitions to sign and promote on your social media:
PETITION: Help farming curb climate breakdown - Oxfam
PETITION: Healthy water for all - Greenpeace Aotearoa
NZPETITION: No New Fossil Fuel Permits or Expansions in Aotearoa | OurActionStation

Dr Niki Harre from Our Climate Declaration will host a webinar Wednesday 11 August 2021 about getting beyond "fear-based” narratives and how to engage people by promoting positive emotions and empathy. Expect to hear some real life examples. Sign up via the group’s facebook

Dr Nikki Harre on facebook

The Global Assembly. OraTaiao considers the kaupapa of the upcoming Global Assembly - ‘to accelerate action to address the climate and ecological emergency in ways that citizens see fit’ - deserving of a high profile; we encourage you to consider participating and to share the opportunity with others.

Read about the Global Assembly here

! Until 30 July (NZ 1 August) their Facebook page offers an application for a funded opportunity.  

Add to factors considered when prescribing: dry powder asthma devices have less than 10 per cent the carbon footprint of pressurised metered-dose inhalers. MDIs contain hydrofluorocarbons, which are potent climate change gases. Read more in the New Zealand Doctor article by Dr Dermot Coffey, GP in Christchurch and Co-convenor of OraTaiao.

Consider when scheduling the next patient consultation or conference whether ‘zoom’ or SKYPE might be appropriate. It won’t work for everyone but cutting travel cost and emissions when possible is a good practice.

A bit more about that (New this month)

This section will provide updates or additions on previously covered or evolving issues. Note: the posters can be mined for ideas to consider for your practice.  

Here are the promised presentations and posters from the Sustainable Health Sector Network conference: 2021 Sustainable Healthcare and Climate Health Aotearoa Conference website (otago.ac.nz)

Unintended consequences of the clean car discount: you may have heard reports a discount-driven spike in demand diminished New Zealand’s already short supply of electric vehicles and fueled higher not lower prices. OraTaiao suggests keeping our eye on the objective of reduced emissions while also highlighting the ideal outcome: less driving overall. In line with our kaupapa supporting equity, climate, and health, let’s advocate to increase - when and where possible - public transport usage and health-promoting active transport: walking and cycling.

Understand the intent of the legislation and wider context from Newshub and from RNZ news
See related OraTaiao submissions

Did you know: New Zealand's imports are among the dirtiest in the world, one of only three developed countries without fuel efficiency standards (alongside Australia and Russia). Source

Good news, interesting links, books

Why cultivating indifference to economic growth (‘agrowth’) may serve us better than chasing 'green growth'.
Read the Story: Beyond Growth (weflive.com)

Track our country's and other progress using 1.5°C national pathway explorer — New Zealand (climateanalytics.org)


OraTaiao: New Zealand Climate and Health Council comprises health professionals in Aotearoa/New Zealand calling for urgent and fair climate action - with real health gains now and for our future.

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