27 June 2017
New Zealanders’ health is at stake in a court case challenging the government over its failure to tackle climate change. Law student Sarah Thomson is taking on the Minister for Climate Change Issues, arguing that New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction target is illegal.
As part of the global Paris Climate Agreement, our government chose a weak target of reducing climate-damaging emissions by 11% (below 1990 levels) by 2030. It plans to achieve this mostly by paying other countries to take action.
Ms Thomson’s case argues that the government’s analysis in setting this target was illogically one-sided. Costs of emissions-reduction action were counted, but the wider gains from climate action and the very real costs of climate changes were ignored.Read more
OraTaiao submission, 31 March 2017
'Climate changes fundamentally threaten human health and wellbeing; yet well-designed climate action can mean greater health and fairness in both the short and longer term. Transport is integral to this. There are close links between transport, climate and health, where eg.
- active and sustainable modes of transport (such as walking and cycling) positively affect health;
- the current reliance on private motor vehicle transport has negative impacts on health through greenhouse gas emissions, road traffic crashes, air and noise pollution and increased sedentary time.
'This submission relates to the GPS2018 and: acting on climate change, prioritising active transport, prioritising public transport, the opportunity costs of poorly cost-effective roading choices including lost health gains, and the importance of making transport user hierarchies and the NZ Health Strategy integral to GPS2018's Strategic direction and Objectives.'
Read the submission here (PDF).
10 April 2017
Health professionals congratulate Generation Zero on today’s Zero Carbon Act campaign launch.
The Act is designed to reduce New Zealand’s long-lived greenhouse gas emissions to net zero within a generation. This means by 2050 our dangerous climate pollution will have been reduced enough to be completely absorbed by increased forests.
The Zero Carbon Act – modelled on the UK’s successful Climate Change Act passed by a conservative-led government in 2008 – will bind future governments to genuine action that protects New Zealand.Read more
17 November 2016
Māori health leader speaks about climate change and the right to health at COP22
World leaders are meeting in Marrakesh to bring to life the promises made to limit climate change in the Paris Agreement. Earlier this week Rhys Jones, a Māori doctor and co-convenor of OraTaiao: The NZ Climate & Health Council, called for climate action that protects human rights, especially indigenous rights, children’s rights and the right to health.
Dr Jones is in Morocco at COP22 participating in an event hosted by the World Health Organization and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.Read more
12 November 2016
Despite New Zealand being a signatory to the new Paris climate agreement, the Ministry of Health is considering the use of coal in Christchurch Hospital’s boiler. OraTaiao, the New Zealand Climate and Health Council and the New Zealand Medical Students’ Association (NZMSA) say to do so would be a mistake for the climate and for health. Although coal burning may achieve short-term financial savings, it is a false economy. Coal burning is inconsistent with the Ministry’s legislated responsibility to protect health.
OraTaiao and the NZMSA are jointly urging the Ministry to support Christchurch Hospital’s switch to lower emission wood waste rather than coal.Read more
29 January 2017
“Take care as the heat rises” advises Dr Alex Macmillan,co-convenor of OraTaiao, The NZ Climate and Health Council, “especially if you’re elderly, pregnant, or already have a medical condition. Babies and children are also more at risk with rising heat, while healthy adults who work outdoors are also especially vulnerable.”
“If there are people in your care, make sure they can keep cool enough. This includes at work, school, early childhood centres, rest homes, prisons, sporting and cultural events,” says Dr Macmillan.Read more
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.