14 October 2016
This week is World Climate Week. In the same United Nations Committee report damning New Zealand’s inaction on child poverty, the committee has also expressed its concern about the harmful impact of climate change on New Zealand children, especially Māori and Pacific children and children living in low-income families.
OraTaiao, the New Zealand Climate and Health Council, welcomes the report from the UN experts. Dr Rhys Jones, Co-Convenor of OraTaiao, says the UN recommendations are sensible and important.Read more
UN Committee on the Rights of the Child 2016 Day of Discussion “Children’s Rights and the Environment"
OraTaiao submission, July 2016
'Our submission considers the serious and potentially catastrophic impact of climate change on the rights of children; how climate change disproportionately affects children; States’ legal obligations; the role of States in relation to the business sector including investment treaties; children as agents of change; and putting children’s rights at the heart of climate policy offers major opportunities to increase children’s enjoyment of their rights.
'Our submission is informed by work we have done, including for the Action for Children and Youth Aotearoa alternative report on New Zealand to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.'
Read full submission here.
Submission, August 2016
Supplementary information for the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child provided by OraTaiao on behalf of Action for Children and Youth Aotearoa
'This background paper outlines how, as well as the unjust impacts on all children, there are some groups of Aotearoa NZ children disproportionately affected by climate change. We focus mainly on those groups. We also outline the absence of consideration of the best interests or views of children in the Aotearoa NZ Government’s climate policies, and the Government’s slow and ambivalent progress in taking the climate-related actions necessary to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of children. We recommend actions that the Aotearoa NZ Government should take as part of its obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).'
Read full submission here.
30 June 2016
Health professionals support the call for a legal framework that accelerates New Zealand’s action to address climate change.
Youth organisation Generation Zero have announced they will work with experienced lawyers to write a ‘Zero Carbon Act’ requiring NZ to get to zero carbon emissions by 2050.
They argue that a ‘Zero Carbon Act’ will ensure that present and future governments take the actions that are urgently needed to improve our climate future.
“As health professionals we recognise climate change as a public health emergency,” says Dr Rhys Jones of OraTaiao: The NZ Climate and Health Council. “A NZ legal framework that ensures a rapid reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is critical if we are to respond effectively to this emergency,” says Dr Jones.Read more
NZ Herald Science Reporter on Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change, with comment from co-convenors Dr Alex Macmillan and Dr Rhys Jones.
Dr Alex Macmillan quoted in this article about academics and students pushing for Otago University to divest from fossil fuels, in the interests of climate protection.
Dr Alex Macmillan interview on Dunedin Television about the joint NZ health groups' 'Call for Action on Climate Change and Health'.
NZ Herald Article 11th December 2015 by Jamie Morton (Herald Science Reporter) with expert comment from Co-convenor Dr Alex Macmillan, who attended the Health Summit at the Paris climate negotiations in December 2015.
Waatea News 13/10/2015 Live interview with Willie Jackson on Paakiwaha - Health Call to Action on Climate Change.
Radio NZ 30/6/2015 Te Manu Korihi News: Govt urged to take action on climate change.
OraTaiao submission on Wellington City Council’s Annual Plan 2016/17 and Carbon Plan Consultation. 3 May 2016.
30 April 2016
OraTaiao: The NZ Climate and Health Council is calling for an independent health check on Wellington Airport’s expensive plans to extend the runway into Lyall Bay.
Aviation makes a significant contribution to climate-damaging emissions – the average Wellingtonian’s footprint is 5.32 CO2eq tonnes annually with almost 20% from domestic flights.
“These emissions contribute to climate change, a leading global threat to health,” says OraTaiao co-convenor Dr Rhys Jones. “An extension of the runway would exacerbate this situation.”Read more
Health professionals welcome Royal Society’s Climate risks report, and highlight importance of risks to health
19 April 2016
Health professionals, in welcoming the Royal Society of NZ’s report today on climate change in New Zealand, are also concerned about the real health risks to New Zealanders from climate change and unhealthy responses to it, and how these may widen health gaps.
"We welcome the Royal Society’s clear call to climate action from six high risk areas: coastal margins, river flooding, freshwater availability, ocean chemistry change, ecosystems threats, and flow-on effects from global climate changes and responses,” says Dr Rhys Jones of OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council.
“Yet climate change should also be viewed as a global medical emergency and, importantly, addressing climate change can also be an unprecedented opportunity for real gains in health outcomes now.”Read more
OraTaiao submission on Greater Wellington Regional Council’s draft Annual Plan 2016/2017. 18 April 2016.
8 April, 2016
EMBARGOED UNTIL 3:30pm Friday 8 April
Dr Alex Macmillan, co-leader of OraTaiao: NZ Climate & Health Council, and a public health physician specialising in environmental health, gave evidence to the Studholme milk drying plant expansion hearing in Waimate today. She called on ECan to continue to fulfil its ethical and moral obligations despite rules in the RMA disabling them from doing so, and turn down the application.
She explained that the impacts of Fonterra’s proposal to drastically expand milk processing in Waimate District, and use coal to power its new drying facility were complex and deeply inextricable from its impact on NZ greenhouse gas emissions, which the hearing is currently not allowed to consider under rules in the RMA.
“Our most important piece of public health legislation which is designed to ensure the sustainable use of resources currently kneecaps regional Councils so they canot protect their people from the biggest threat facing them. It also pretends that climate change can be separated off from the other big issues that regional councils are facing. This makes the law an ass,” Dr Macmillan said in court today.Read more
5 April, 2016
Leading British health institutions and the Obama administration in the U.S have both brought attention to the health impacts of climate change in this last week.
The UK Health Alliance on Climate Change is a large coalition of prominent British health institutions that aims to encourage stronger action on climate change that protects and promotes health, whilst also reducing the burden on health services.
The UK Alliance is asking the UK Governments to ensure that national energy, health, transport, and agriculture policy unlocks health benefits and reduces climate-health risks.
On Monday the White House released a 300-page scientific report about the health impacts of climate change on American people.Read more
OraTaiao submission to the Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee’s Inquiry into the future of New Zealand's mobility. 1 April 2016.
An alliance of some of the UK's most prominent health and medical associations has just been launched, to elevate the health professional's response to climate change.
The Presidents of each of the foundation members have written to the UK Secretary of State for Health with a number of initial policy positions and a request for a meeting, and this has been received positively.
See their website, and more details below.Read more
Monday 21st March 2016
Participants in today’s direct climate change action outside the Petroleum New Zealand conference at Sky City will no doubt be labelled radicals and worse. But they are a group of careful individuals with legitimate concerns. Among them are individual health professionals whose job it is to treat the sick as well as to act on the underlying causes of illness and death.
Most of the time, that action takes institutionally acceptable forms. We spend much of our time communicating with patients and the public about risks to our health, as well as attempting to improve public policy for health by generating convincing evidence, providing advice, and taking part in democratic policy-making processes.
But there are rare occasions when our professional ethics demand we go further. Climate change is now one of them. It’s now more than a quarter century since industry and governments have known about the relationship between burning fossil fuels and the existential threat climate change poses to humans and other species. Continued inaction globally, including in New Zealand, has meant we may already have passed some dangerous thresholds – last month blew global temperature records out of the water. To protect health globally (including here) we must now leave 80% of the fossil fuel reserves we already know about in the ground, safely unburnt.Read more
OraTaiao submission to the Environment Select Committee on the “Resource Legislation Amendment Bill 2015”. 14 March 2016.
OraTaiao submission to Parliamentary Select Committee: International treaty examination of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), 11 March 2016
'Our main concern is: Climate change is a major issue of human health and survival. It requires urgent action globally and in New Zealand (NZ) to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions – particularly the emissions from fossil fuels. The TPPA will hinder the ability of NZ (and the other signatory nations) to pass policy and regulation to achieve this.'
Read full submission here.