• Op Ed in NZ Doctor, 12 October 2023: Throwing fuel at the bonfire no substitute for climate action

    The piling up of threat upon threat as global warming accelerates is not matched by political will to reduce and mitigate climate change effects, writes OraTaiao Co-convenor Dermot Coffey in New Zealand Doctor Rata Aotearoa. We are grateful for permission to now republish his op-ed here. 

  • “Prescribing a Healthy Planet” – Invited editorial in the September 2023 NZ Medical Student Journal

    Human wellbeing is inexorably linked with planetary health. This relationship has long been understood in Indigenous worldviews and is receiving increasing attention in academic literature and public health movements. The health sector now needs to accept our crucial central role in Aotearoa’s climate response and every one of us needs to add our part. Writing in the September 2023 New Zealand Medical Student Journal Te Hautaka o ngā Akongā Rongoā, OraTaiao Board members Dermot Coffey, Summer Wright and Angad S. Chauhan offer suggestions for medical students and clinicians about where to start. Read here

  • Healthy choices for voters – the OraTaiao election scorecard

    MEDIA RELEASE, 22 September 2023

    A Health election scorecard, released today by OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council, shows significant room for improvement from all parties. Representing more than 1,000 health professionals and health organisations in Aotearoa, OraTaiao is part of a worldwide movement urgently focusing on the health challenges of climate change and the health opportunities of climate action.

  • UN ruling gives children new legal protection from climate change threats

    MEDIA RELEASE, 19 September 2023

    Protection from adverse effects of climate change has been affirmed as a right for all children under international law by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. 

    Launched yesterday in Geneva, the Committee’s General Comment No. 26 (2023) on Children’s Rights and the Environment With a Special Focus on Climate Change places new legal obligations on States, like New Zealand, which have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. 

    “As a contributor to the UN Committee which issued this statement, OraTaiao welcomes its wide-ranging verdict and we urge the New Zealand Government to now honour its obligations to act for our children”, says OraTaiao Co-convenor Summer Wright. 

  • Submission on the Draft Government Policy Statement on Land Transport 2024 (GPS2024)

    New Zealand's current commitment to cut gross domestic emissions is a mere fraction of what’s needed from us, pressure to cut all gases much faster is highly likely, and New Zealand simply can’t afford to shield any sector from reality. The easiest path for the transport sector is for GPS2024 to rapidly eliminate climate pollution and ensure the infrastructure needed for net zero much closer to 2030 than 2050, with negative emissions soon after. 

    ‘Rapidly reducing emissions’ must be the top strategic priority in GPS2024. The second strategic priority is ensuring ‘resilience’. The third strategic priority is ‘health and safety’, as the transport sector has a big influence on the health of New Zealanders. 

    The other three priorities must be considered in the context of increasingly constrained capacity to emit, while ensuring Tiriti o Waitangi, justice, inclusive and equitable access are cross-cutting themes across all six strategic priorities. 

    ‘Rapidly reducing emissions’ which OraTaiao expects must be the top strategic priority in GPS2024, means a major shift in funding across activity classes and years, to frontload investment in public transport, cycling and walking activity classes. This is the chance to accelerate the necessary shift from predominantly privately owned vehicle transport, to shared transport, walking and cycling.

    OraTaiao's full submission to Te Manatū Waka (Ministry of Transport), prepared by Liz Springford, Dr Scott Metcalfe, Dr James Hamill and Summer Wright, is available here

    Photo by Dan Freeman on Unsplash


  • "Price agricultural climate pollution fast, well, and right now" – Submission to the Ministry for the Environment

    The Government proposes the deferral of farm-level agricultural emissions reporting and pricing by two years, from 1 January 2024 to 1 January 2026.

    OraTaiao is strongly opposed. 

    We understand that the challenge posed by the climate crisis is to slow, then stop, then remove the flow of dangerous gases thickening the blanket of climate pollution overheating our world. Just like the human body, our planet has a very limited average temperature range where climate conditions are stable and we humans can thrive. Every tenth of a degree of overheating increases risks of tipping points and irrevocable harm.

    As New Zealanders can already see from Cyclone Gabrielle and the Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland floods, we cannot afford a destabilising global climate. What's more, current Government commitments to cut gross domestic emissions are a mere fraction of what’s needed from us. Pressure to cut all gases much faster is highly likely, and New Zealand simply can’t afford to continue subsidising and shielding the agriculture sector from reality either.

    Pricing the mega-tonnes of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide emitted by the sector is essential to drive the deep cuts in our gross emissions that are needed to meet our domestic and international obligations.

    We therefore strongly urge that basic farm-level agricultural emissions reporting starts from 1 January 2024 as per the Climate Change Response Act backstop provision - albeit with a small legislative change to use the definition by He Waka Eke Noa - Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership (26,000 farms covering 96% of agricultural emissions). 

    Our full submission to the Ministry for the Environment Manatū Mō Te Taiao, produced by Liz Springford and Dr Scott Metcalfe based on OraTaiao’s 2030 vision for Aotearoa’s transformed food sector and lands, is available here

  • "Either radically transform the NZ ETS, or dismantle it" – Submission to the Ministry for the Environment

    OraTaiao has called on the Government to either radically transform NZ’s Emissions Trading Scheme, or end it. See our submission to the Government’s review.

  • Letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs ahead of COP28

    The 28th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is due to take place in Dubai from 30 November until 12 December 2023. The New Zealand Government delegation to this COP28 Conference will be led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

    COP28 this year will host the first ever Health Day, highlighting the fact that climate change is, in the words of the WHO, the “single biggest health threat facing humanity." OraTaiao has written to the Minister, strongly recommending that the COP28 delegation include dedicated expertise from members who have experience in public and planetary health and the presence of one of our health ministers. 

  • Enhancing the resilience of Aotearoa NZ's critical infrastructure – Submission to DPMC

    Critical infrastructure provides essential services to people across Aotearoa and it must be able to to absorb shocks, recover from disruptions and adapt to changing conditions. Critical infrastructure is often thought of as energy supply, telecommunications, water, food, financial services and roads. 

    OraTaiao's feedback to the discussion document on enhancing its resilience emphasises that the health system – especially primary care – deserves particular attention. In addition, critical infrastructure protection and enhancement, if designed well, can offer significant health gains through developing resilient active and public transport systems, enhancing the “health” of buildings, and protecting food production. And Aotearoa’s approach to enhancing the resilience of critical infrastructure must be fully enmeshed in our mitigation efforts to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. 

    Our submission on these issues to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, prepared by OraTaiao Co-convenor Dr Dermot Coffey, is available here

  • E-scooters don't belong on footpaths – Submission to Waka Kotahi

    Waka Kotahi declared in 2018 that e-scooters were not designated to be a motor vehicle. This temporary declaration has allowed them to be used and parked on footpaths. OraTaiao strongly recommends that an extension to E-scooter (Declaration Not to be Motor Vehicles) Notice 2018 should not be provided at the present time, for three main reasons.

    The speed differential between pedestrians and footpath users creates a hazard for both pedestrians and e-scooter users. An additional hazard is created by the random depositing of shared e-scooters on footpaths and within cycleways. This is a particularly important risk for disabled and blind pedestrians. Although e-scooters should give an additional option for mode shift away from unhealthy forms of transport such as private car use, at present the evidence is that the mode-shift comes from healthier forms of transport than e-scooters, especially walking.

    Our submission, prepared by OraTaiao Co-convenor Dr Dermot Coffey, is available here

  • Health professionals join the call for cycling, walking lane on Auckland Harbour Bridge

    MEDIA RELEASE, 3 July 2023

    OraTaiao, the New Zealand Climate and Health Council, is joining the call for Waka Kotahi to liberate the lane following the release of a report showing the viability of reallocating one lane of traffic on the harbour bridge for walking and cycling.

  • Submission on the 2023 Draft Advice to Inform the Government’s Second Emissions Reduction Plan

    OraTaiao has made a submission on the Climate Change Commission’s draft advice to Government about the second emissions reduction plan. 

    OraTaiao commends the Commission in offering better recognition of the health co-benefits of climate action and the increased discussion of this throughout the draft advice. Maximising health co-benefits from well-designed climate action centred on human health, could give a shared and unifying focus for building greater government and public support within Aotearoa.

    OraTaiao strongly agrees with the Commission that “Ultimately, a fair, inclusive, and equitable transition means pursuing in parallel issues of social and economic equity and tackling climate change.”

    OraTaiao urges a co-governance approach for Aotearoa so that Māori may co-lead the journey to a sustainable future for all. Ensuring Māori have rangatiratanga over the integration of mātauranga Māori into policy design, development, and implementation at central and local government level, is essential. 

    We also make specific recommendations on a wide range of issues, including Emissions Trading Scheme settings, pricing of agricultural emissions at the same rates rates as other industries, the over-reliance on forestry for carbon removals, introducing a Carbon Border Mechanism, integrating walkways, cycleways, generous car share and easy public transport access in urban areas, reducing aviation emissions, retrofitting of all rental housing well before 2030, prioritising and widely promoting more ambitious gross emissions reductions, a just transition to public and locally-owned, nature-friendly, renewable electricity and ending all new oil, gas and coal exploration and extraction on land and at sea.

    Our full submission, prepared by lead author Liz Springford with support from Dr Scott Metcalfe, Dr Dermot Coffey and Summer Wright, is available here. 

  • Climate Action Kōrero 4 with Professor Quentin Atkinson: Are we evolved to tackle climate change?

    Why are people failing to address the climate crisis? Is it true that our brains aren’t wired to stop climate change?

    Professor Quentin Atkinson is the Director of the Behavioural Insights Exchange at the Auckland University School of Psychology. In this OraTaiao webinar, he examines proposed psychological barriers to climate action and the policy recommendations which have been made to overcome them.

    Quentin explains why they’re wrong – and potentially dangerous. So what does research tell us about human motivation, and what are the real barriers to climate action we have to overcome?

  • Submission on Waka Kotahi Cycling Action Plan

    OraTaiao has made a submission on the Waka Kotahi 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.

    To read our submission, prepared by Dr James Hamill, Liz Springford and Dr Matt Jenks, click on the headline above.

  • Free Fares Coalition Submits Petition to "Keep Half Price Fares for Everyone, for Good!"

    The Aotearoa Collective for Public Transport Equity submitted our petition to keep half prices fares for all to the petitions committee on Thursday 11th May. 
    OraTaiao Executive Board member and Occupational Therapist Romelli Rodriguez-Jolly spoke in support - "Half price fares are a public health intervention".

    See the petition here:

  • NZ failing to protect health from climate change impacts – world health body

    MEDIA RELEASE, 17 May 2023

    Ahead of UN climate change negotiations in Dubai at the end of the year, a report from the Global Climate and Health Alliance has delivered a damning assessment of New Zealand’s commitment to a healthy, climate safe future.