June 2023 Newsletter Pānui

June 2023 Newsletter Pānui

Kia ora --

A hearty start-of-winter welcome to you all. We are pleased to have another packed newsletter for you. Indeed, things have been so busy that we have made the decision to move to a monthly schedule for these and you can expect one at the beginning of every month. We are also delighted to announce that we have crossed the significant threshold of 1,000 members…as every good salesperson knows, 1,000 sounds a lot larger than 999!

The past two months has seen a significant amount of our work going into a number of fairly technical submissions and areas of advocacy, including on our approach to the international NDC commitments, the Emissions Trading Scheme and the proposal for Auckland Council to sell their shares in Auckland Airport. We’ve celebrated some big wins in announcements that public hospital coal-boilers will be phased out by 2025, and lesser, though still significant, wins in the recent Budget.

It’s easy to forget in the midst of this, that the small battles need to be fought as well. It takes just a few minutes to submit on the proposed lower speed limits in Wellington, or to send a quick email to your local councillor in Ōtautahi advising they keep the excellent new cycleway on Rolleston Ave and Park Terrace. And we’d be delighted to see you at the Climate Health & Sustainable Healthcare Conference 2023 in Wellington in early July, or online at our next kōrero on the 15th of June.

Ngā mihi nui

Dermot and Summer,
Co-convenors, OraTaiao: NZ Climate & Health Council


1. Update on OraTaiao activities
2. National happenings

3. International news
4. Good news, interesting links, books

1. Update on OraTaiao activities

Raise a glass with us – OraTaiao reaches a membership milestone 
Pop the cork on a bottle of your favourite bubbly or soft drink – OraTaiao now has 1,000 members! We are heartened by all the support we’re receiving from health professionals and organisations across Aotearoa for our goal of “Āhuarangi Ora, Tangata Ora – Healthy Climate, Healthy People.” As we continue to grow, our ability to achieve this goal is getting stronger. If you know others who may be interested in joining OraTaiao, why not invite them to fill in a membership form on this page today? 

Pushing for healthy transport
OraTaiao advocacy over the last couple of months has focused on shifting our mode of transport away from those which are most harmful to health and the climate. 

We spoke to Parliament’s Petitions Committee, supporting a call from the Aotearoa Collective for Public Transport Equity. Their petition asks Transport Minister Michael Wood to keep fares half price for everyone, for good, and free for those who need it most. Climate change is a health issue and public transport policy is an important focus for climate action. Facilitating modal shift away from car dependency to public transport leads to decreased carbon emissions, cleaner air for respiratory health, reduced road injuries and safer streets for people of all ages and abilities. Our campaign had a partial win in the Budget, with free fares introduced for children under 13 and half price fares made permanent for under-25s. 

OraTaiao also made a submission to Waka Kotahi on their Cycling Action Plan. Overall, we believe the Plan is excellent and we strongly endorse it. We do however make additional recommendations around urgency, co-governance, a systems approach, funding, guidance for local government, road renewals, grassroots involvement, equity, e-bikes, cycle path maintenance, intersections and roundabouts, car sharing and land use. 

Mayor Wayne Brown’s plan to sell the Council’s stake in Auckland International Airport has met widespread opposition. OraTaiao joined calls for airport shares to be kept in public hands. Air transport related emissions are an increasingly important issue. An article published last month in the Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand reports that the country’s aviation emissions rose 116 percent from 1990 to 2019 to reach 4.9 Mt CO2, with international emissions tripling. Given how tightly linked they are with other sectors of the economy such as tourism, and given the absence of any realistic technological solutions within the timeframe needed, they will present one of the more difficult challenges for reduction. A fair and equitable solution will be much easier to achieve if as much public control as possible is maintained over our airports. 

In addition to these efforts to push for healthy transport, OraTaiao has also fed back to Parliament’s Environment Committee on a government Bill which would change the way the Emissions Trading Scheme operates. The Climate Change Response (Late Payment Penalties and Industrial Allocation) Amendment Bill, now before the House, would increase the number of carbon credits given away by the government for free. This undermines the most basic aims of the ETS and would make our national and international targets more difficult to meet. Our submission urged MPs to amend the Bill to signal to industry that essential change cannot be left until the last minute and that a sustainable long-term plan to transition off fossil fuels is needed immediately.

We encourage OraTaiao members to make their own submissions – including on safer speed limits in the capital, for those living in Te Whanganui a Tara, using the handy submission guide from Paihikara Ki Pōneke Cycle Wellington. And we always welcome input from OraTaiao members in our work. If there’s a climate-related consultation you think needs a response from health professionals, a priority you feel we should address or a good journal article or submission guide you’ve found which might inform our advocacy, do get in touch. 

Aotearoa Collective for Public Transport EquityPetition presentation to Transport Minister Michael Wood. Photo: Aotearoa Collective for Public Transport Equity

Registrations open for the Climate Health & Sustainable Healthcare Conference 2023
Taiao, Tangata, Hauora – these are the key themes this year for Aotearoa's pre-eminent gathering of researchers, health professionals, policymakers, architects, consultants, sustainability professionals, operational managers, suppliers, procurement agencies, board members and students working for a healthy planet with healthy people. Organised by Climate Health Aotearoa, Sustainable Healthcare Aotearoa, the Climate and Health Alliance and OraTaiao, CHSH2023 is open to anyone interested in:

  • Planetary health
  • How climate health and healthcare impacts on the well-being of all New Zealanders
  • Ensuring the health sector in Aotearoa New Zealand is equitable, and delivers high quality, patient and whanau-centred services within existing planetary boundaries.

The CHSH2023 themes have a focus on mātauranga Māori, challenging our delegates to become more connected and knowledgeable and shift the paradigm towards environmental sustainability and climate resilience. This is a conference not to be missed. Register here

Come and join OraTaiao's Climate Action Kōrero
Alongside our advocacy, OraTaiao has kept up our engagement and learning opportunities for members through our Climate Action Kōrero webinar series. Last month we were joined by Kaeden Watts (Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāi Tūhoe) and Tiana Jakicevich (Te Whakatōhea, Ngāti Kahungungu ki te Wairoa and Croatian), who were the two rangatahi Māori delegates at the COP27 conference in Egypt. Their insider perspective on what really goes on behind the scenes at UN climate talks was very revealing. The recording of their kōrero is now online here

Climate Action Kōrero 3

This month, we will host Professor Quentin Atkinson from the University of Auckland Waipapa Taumata Rau. Quentin will share findings from his field of psychology about the factors which lie behind climate action and climate inaction. A summary of his Marsden-funded research was recently published by The Conversation. To join the webinar with Quentin at 7.30pm on Thursday 15 June, register here

1. National happenings

Hospitals help to leave coal in the hole
The best news to come out of the health sector in the last couple of months would have to be the announcement by Climate Change Minister James Shaw that all coal-fired boilers in hospitals and tertiary institutions will be gone by the end of 2025. The removal of the 14 remaining coal boilers that supply energy to public hospitals is set to reduce emissions by around 203,760 tonnes of CO2 equivalent over the next 10 years – the equivalent of taking 8385 cars off the road. OraTaiao warmly welcomed the news.

This marks the end of a long campaign for us, stretching back to 2016, which has included lobbying individual District Health Boards, supporting a Coal Action Murihiku petition to transition to wood chip fuel at Invercargill Hospital and working with the Climate Change Commission

As 350 Aotearoa have highlighted, the end of coal boilers does not mean the end of all fossil-fueled hospital heating – there are still a number of gas-fired plants. But the good news shows that it’s possible to transition to renewables. Join us in supporting 350 Aotearoa’s campaign to fully decarbonise our hospitals and other public buildings. 

Climate Strike
Another encouraging sign last month was the return of young people to the streets in their second climate strike this year. OraTaiao was proud to join School Strike 4 Climate NZ and Fridays For Future Aotearoa at their rallies and to support their demands that New Zealand reduces its emissions, transition to regenerative agriculture, lower the voting age to 16 and respond to the climate crisis with tangata whenua at the center of decision making.

Photo: School Strike 4 Climate NZ⎪Facebook

Photo: Grant Brookes

3. International news

Health community works to resuscitate UN climate talks 
The next UN climate summit, due to take place in the United Arab Emirates from 30 November, faces a series of deadening challenges. 

In March, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that the 2020s will be perhaps the last chance to keep the global rise in temperature within the 1.5°C limit needed for human survival. A “global stocktake” of the world’s collective progress on implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement is now under way. It is likely to show the world leaders gathering in the UAE for this COP28 Conference that most countries are falling well short of the cuts in greenhouse gases needed to meet the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C target. What’s more, the COP28 Conference will be chaired by Sultan Al Jaber, the chief executive of one of the largest oil companies in the world. As reported in the February OraTaiao Newsletter, Al Jaber plans to invest US$150 billion over the next five years to expand oil and gas production. 

Yet COP28 will also be the first to consider health issues in depth, with a meeting of global health ministers to highlight the consequences of the climate crisis for health and wellbeing. “Declaring an official health day at COP28 is welcome proof of the growing political realisation that the climate crisis is also a health crisis,” says Dr Jeni Miller, Executive Director of the Global Climate and Health Alliance which brings together over 130 health organisations from around the world. 

“As the front line of response for people’s health, health professionals and workers see first hand the health impacts of climate change – on the communities and patients we serve. And the health community has been stepping up, including in the last few years with two of the largest health mobilisations – on any issue – the 2020 Healthy Recovery letter, with sign on by organizations representing 40 million health professionals; followed by the 2021 Healthy Climate Prescription supported by organizations representing 46 million health professionals worldwide.” 

As a member of the Global Climate and Health Alliance, OraTaiao has been part of these mobilisations. And we are now redoubling efforts from within Aotearoa to resuscitate the UN climate negotiations. 

As our Climate Action Kōrero webinar revealed last month, the way the New Zealand Ministry Foreign Affairs Manatū Aorere approaches the COP climate negotiations is not all it seems, and there is enormous room for improvement – especially when it comes to honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi and addressing the consequences of the climate crisis for health. This conclusion has been supported by the Global Climate and Health Alliance, who assessed the National Determined Contribution document submitted by the Ministry across six health categories. The Ministry’s NDC plan for how New Zealand will meet the goals of the Paris Agreement scored zero out of a possible 18 on health. Bottom-ranked New Zealand shared this spot with just five other countries.

OraTaiao has amplified these messages with a media release and provided in-depth advice to the Ministry on how it should approach international climate change negotiations this year. We will continue to press the government to support the work of the health community at COP28 and to urgently update New Zealand’s NDC, strengthen commitments to human health and centralise Te Tiriti. 

4. Good news, interesting links, books

The Lancet: “Climate change, health & racial justice”
A major new health policy paper in The Lancet is attracting a lot of interest. The title reveals its focus, which could hardly be more in line with OraTaiao’s vision. 

The opening summary gives a taste: “Climate change has a broad range of health impacts and tackling climate change could be the greatest opportunity for improving global health this century. Yet conversations on climate change and health are often incomplete, giving little attention to structural discrimination and the need for racial justice. Racism kills, and climate change kills. Together, racism and climate change interact and have disproportionate effects on the lives of minoritised people both within countries and between the Global North and the Global South.”

The policy paper is the first scoping review that has summarised current evidence on how structural discrimination interacts with climate change to cause profound damage to minoritised people's health globally. Its stated aim is to provide a robust platform for academics and practitioners to build discourse and justice-led action. It concludes with a message for the health community to urgently examine and repair the structural discrimination that drives the unequal impacts of climate change to achieve rapid and equitable action.

We hope that you find this link as interesting as we do. 

Image: The Lancet

A movie with mauri
The Doc Edge film festival is back. Although in-person screenings have just wrapped up in Tāmaki Makaurau, they begin today in Pōneke and the films will be streaming until 7 July through the Doc Edge Virtual Cinema. The highlight of this year’s offering is festival opener The Endangered Generation?, a documentary featuring people recently brought to you in the OraTaiao Newsletter. 

The Endangered Generation? explores the impact of climate change on cultural heritage and traditions, featuring diverse voices including Māori and First Nations representatives and Indigenous leaders of Central Panama. One of these voices belongs to Dr Daniel Hikuroa (Ngāti Maniapoto, Waikato-Tainui, Ngaati Whanaunga, Pākehā), who was also the guest speaker at our 2022 OraTaiao AGM (see him here). Through interviews with scientists, and cultural leaders and environmental activists – including George Monbiot, who featured in the September OraTaiao Newsletter – the film delivers an urgent plea to reconsider our actions and celebrates the potential of the world and the connections that exist within it. 

You can watch the trailer and book tickets for The Endagered Generation? here. 

This newsletter was written by Grant Brookes.

OraTaiao: New Zealand Climate and Health Council

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