OraTaiao and eleven other health groups wrote to the Minister of Health last month, outlining the crucial importance of the health reforms in creating a world-leading sustainable health system in Aotearoa. The Minister's reply confirms sustainability is on the agenda of the Transition Unit. However, it is critical this is properly achieved at the commencement of the new health bodies on July 1st. Indeed, a failure to do so would call into question the entire government’s willingness to follow their pronouncements and put us on a course to a zero-Carbon NZ.
This month, we will be spending time on the national adaptation plan submission. This will be even more important and urgent than originally planned with the revelation that sea-level rise will impact much sooner on many coastal communities in NZ.
We will farewell this month our excellent coordinator, Julia Crosfield, who has done impressive work with OraTaiao over the past 4 years. See the details below for the exciting job opportunity that this creates!
As always, take the opportunity to discuss the importance of health with your public representatives and professional colleges, and we always welcome your time to help with our work should you have capacity.
Ngā mihi nui,
Dermot and Summer,
Co-convenors, OraTaiao: NZ Climate & Health Council
May 2022 Newsletter
Update on OraTaiao activities
Good news, interesting links, books
Update on OraTaiao activities
Healthcare workers ask the Government to make Aotearoa NZ’s health system climate ready and climate friendly
OraTaiao and eleven other health professional groups sent a letter to Health Minister Andrew Little on World Health Day recommending a dedicated sustainability unit, and intersectionality between the health sector and other public agencies to ensure that a healthy climate response is centralised in decision making.
This letter was mentioned on TVNZ news (see around 7 min 11sec). Watch here.
Climate action targeted rate supported in consultation phase
OraTaiao made a submission in support of Auckland Council’s proposed climate action targeted rate which would see investment in active and public transport and urban forest canopy. According to Auckland Council, “more than two-thirds (68 per cent) of individuals who submitted feedback through the consultation supported the proposed targeted rate, with organisations and Māori entities also endorsing the proposal at 66 per cent and 67 per cent support respectively.”
Thank you to OraTaiao members who made a submission using our guide and thank you to our Transport Working Group – particularly Hayleigh Frost, Dr James Hamill and our co-convenors – for preparing OraTaiao’s final submission.
The next step is for Auckland Councillors is to support the climate action targeted rate. According to a Stuff news article, Councillors have already been told that existing budget plans to upgrade the cycle network are not enough to meet climate goals.
- Auckland Council: “Consultation finds strong support for Climate Action Targeted Rate”
Image from heartofthecity
Seeking a new Coordinator
We are looking for a part-time Coordinator for 10 hours per week. If you are interested or know someone please get in touch with one of our Co-convenors (Dermot Coffey firstname.lastname@example.org or Summer Wright email@example.com) and please share this job description on your networks.
Our present coordinator, Julia Crosfield, is leaving later this month and is taking a communications role with the Growing Up in NZ study. Congratulations Julia!
Welcome to new members!
We are delighted to welcome new members this month. Our membership has been steadily growing and we really value this support. We are also always happy to support our members in getting involved in our work when they have capacity
Join our strategy planning day – 28 May 2022 - Wellington
Every two years we hold a strategy planning day to look for ways to reach our vision of a "Healthy Planet, Healthy People". You can see our previous strategic plan 2020-2022. This year we will be meeting in Wellington on Saturday 28 May (9.30am-5pm). If you are interested in attending then please get in touch with us on firstname.lastname@example.org
First ever national climate change adaptation plan opens for consultation
The Government is seeking feedback on its first national adaptation plan – this is a six-year plan to prepare for the effects of climate change like flooding, wildfire, droughts, and sea level rise. It includes proposals for future work programmes such assessing healthcare service resilience.
- Ministry for the Environment: “National adaptation plan for responding to climate change risks”
- Radio NZ: "Climate change adaptation plan out for consultation”
Kiwis over-optimistic about climate change
New Zealand’s emissions are high per-capita and increasing. Behaviour change is needed and, while there are simple steps we can take to reduce emissions, research shows our willingness to change our consumption and behaviour ranks very low compared to other countries.
- Newsroom: “Our fantastically inflated view of our climate progress”
- Dr Rod Carr talks to the Environment & Climate Change Committee countering the myth that New Zealand is so little it doesn't matter. Watch on YouTube here.
People, land and belonging – Kainga
Dr Paul Tapsell is helping urban raised Māori to reconnect with their ancestral communities. Listen to an interview with Dr Tapsell on Radio NZ.
- Radio NZ podcast: “People, land and belonging – Kainga”
New York Times: “The unseen toll of a warming world”
The stresses and strains of climate change on mental health are described in a recent New York Times article which is based on interviews with hundreds of impacted individuals and also with experts. According to a Stanford University researcher and author of “Generation Dread,” climate distress is becoming, “a No. 1 threat to mental health”. The article also says, “some of the worst physical effects of climate change are disproportionately felt by Black and Latino communities and Indigenous nations — who often live in places with a legacy of mining, energy drilling and other pollution. And while these groups are among the most concerned about the changing climate, community resources to deal with the emotional fallout may be more limited.”
- New York Times: “The unseen toll of a warming world”
Photo by Sergey Kuznetsov on Unsplash
By when do we need to phase out oil and gas?
“Immediate and deep cuts in the production of all fossil fuels” is needed to comply with the carbon budget for a 50:50 chance of not exceeding 1.5°C of warming, according to a new report by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. The report states, “There are no exceptions; all nations need to begin a rapid and just phaseout of existing production.” It also suggests New Zealand should end all oil and gas production by 2034.
- The University of Manchester: “Phaseout Pathways for Fossil Fuel Production Within Paris-compliant Carbon Budgets”
Climate protest in Germany. Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash
How do we adapt to climate change?
As global temperatures increase, governments and institutions are seeking way to prepare for the impacts of climate change on society, economy and health. In February, the Victorian Department of Health and Department of Families, Fairness and Housing released a “Health and human services climate change adaptation action plan 2022-2026”
In January this year, Health Care Without Harm US & Canada produced a report which looks at, “building climate-resilient health systems and communities, and explores how health institutions can support equitable decarbonisation.”
- Healthcare without Harm: “Climate resilience for health care and communities: Strategies and case studies”
Australian GPs run a climate change campaign with patients
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has recently launched posters for waiting rooms, alerting patients to the risks of climate-health impacts. These posters have a QR code which links to important health advice. There are posters on extreme heat, fossil fuel air pollution, bushfires, air pollution in pregnancy and mental health impacts.
Growing number of members in the Pacific share decarbonisation commitments – Global Green and Healthy Hospitals
The latest Global Green and Healthy Hospitals report for the Pacific demonstrates the scale and achievements of the network and its members, including decarbonisation commitments. Read the report. Healthcare champions for 2021 were also announced and include Auckland DHB, County Manukau DHB and Northland DHB. To join the health care climate challenge – see here.
Opportunity for children to speak up!
The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child is inviting children and young people ages 17 and under to share their views and experiences on their rights, the environment and climate change. Their responses will be used to shape the content of General Comment No. 26, which will let governments know what they need to do to defend childrens’ environmental rights.
Children are being asked to participate by completing an online questionnaire by 30 June 2022. Please share widely with any young people and teachers you may know. Here is the link: https://childrightsenvironment.org/get-involved/
Realisation of Paris Agreement pledges may limit warming just below 2 °C
The authors of a paper published in Nature last month show, through modelling, that global temperature rises could be kept below 2 °C if all conditional and unconditional pledges made by countries were fulfilled and on time.
However, the goals of the Paris Agreement are supposed to limit warming to 1.5°C due to the implications of worse case scenarios - see here.
Want to see how your bank is doing?
Banktrack has produced a fossil fuel finance report looking at which banks are the big investors in fossil fuels. See their report “Banking on the climate crisis” on this page.
Good news, interesting links, books
CleanMed 2022, 10-12 May, in USA and online
CleanMed is a conference for leaders in health care sustainability. It is a platform for health care leaders to convene, collaborate, and conduct societal transformation for individual, community, and planetary health. Find event details and register.
Doctors for nutrition webinar – 11 May, online
This webinar will explore the potential for plant-based nutrition to alleviate suffering caused by both chronic disease and the climate crisis. Register here.
‘Milked’ the movie
‘Milked’ is a documentary looking at ‘white washing’ in the NZ dairy industry, the impact of dairy on the environment and health. It includes interviews with contributors such as environmentalist Dr Jane Goodall, and Cowspiracy co-director Keegan Kuh.
Politico: “Greta Thunberg doesn’t want you to talk about her anymore”
This Politico article looks at youth activist Greta Thunberg’s development, and describes a change in her from a single-minded focus on climate science to an awakening of social disparities and the need for social justice.
Activists Greta Thunberg, from Sweden, and Vanessa Nakate, from Uganda, at the Youth4climate conference in Milan in 2021 | Matteo Bazzi/EFE via EPA
This newsletter was written by Julia Crosfield.
OraTaiao: New Zealand Climate and Health Council