Media Releases


Protecting health through peaceful direct action

MEDIA RELEASE

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.

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Health groups call for TPPA health check-up

MEDIA RELEASE
3 February 2016

Health groups across NZ are repeating their call for an independent expert health impact assessment of the draft TPP agreement. Dr Alex Macmillan from OraTaiao: The NZ Climate and Health Council says: “New Zealanders need to know the full impact of this deal on our health and health system.”

“We share the concerns of the World Medical Association - and we agree with the NZMA that last week’s National Interest Analysis does not adequately address health impacts.”

“Our freedom to pass laws for a healthy country and climate - and respond to new health threats - is non-negotiable.” says Dr Macmillan. “To quote the World Health Organisation’s Director-General: ‘one particularly disturbing trend is the use of foreign investment agreements to handcuff governments and reduce their policy space.’ “

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Paris Agreement is health agreement for the 21st Century

The Paris Agreement on climate change will be at the heart of progress in public health in every country around the world, providing the blueprint for a healthy and safe future. The deal lays the groundwork for global action to limit warming well below 2°C, and needs to catalyse a transition to a decarbonised economy while protecting human well-being.

The agreement has been made possible by a fast-growing global momentum from all parts of society. The global health sector made its voice heard at COP21, with declarations representing over 1700 health organizations, over 8000 hospitals and health facilities, and 13 million health professionals calling for urgent action to protect our climate and our health.

However, the agreement is only as good as the actions we now take. Much work needs to be done by the governments of all countries, including New Zealand. The health impacts of climate change are already being seen around the world with hundreds of thousands already dying as a result of climate change each year and millions more affected by the health burden of our carbon-intensive economies. Man-made air pollution alone claims one in eight lives worldwide and more than a thousand deaths per year in New Zealand.

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Protecting and promoting health in the Paris climate agreement

Over the last 12 hours, the World Health Organization and members of the Global Climate and Health Alliance urge negotiators to strengthen health wording in the Paris Agreement.

A new draft text of the Paris climate agreement was released yesterday. Over the past 10 days, countries have worked co-operatively to produce a strong draft agreement to limit emissions. Now the Ministers are back to sort out the more than 900 options for wording – the devil is in the detail.

The global health community are here in force, making their voices heard about the risk that climate change poses for people’s health in low, middle and high income countries, as well as the importance of accounting for health costs and benefits in committing to climate action. Well designed climate action would reduce the global burden of disease from a variety of illnesses, including lung disease, obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, mental illness, and road injuries.

The importance of health was recognised early on in the agreement, with language about protecting health, promoting health and health benefits of climate action scattered throughout the text.

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Global health call to action on climate change

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On the 5th of December 2015, an unprecedented alliance of doctors, nurses, and other health professionals from every part of the health sector has come together calling on governments to reach a strong agreement at the UN climate negotiations that protects the health of patients and the public. Together, at the Annual Health and Climate Summit in Paris, they have announced the signatories of declarations representing over 1,700 health organizations, 8,200 hospitals and health facilities, and 13 million health professionals, bringing the global medical consensus on climate change to a level never seen before.

The declarations call for urgent action by governments to protect and promote health, and represents a firm commitment by health professionals to engage in the response to climate change.

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Health professionals march for healthy climate solutions

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Health professionals will be among thousands of New Zealanders out on the streets this weekend calling for solutions to climate change. The NZ-wide marches are part of thousands of People’s Climate events around the world – ahead of the United Nations Climate Summit starting this Monday in Paris.

“Taking action on climate change could be the greatest health opportunity of the 21st century, and it’s our professional responsibility to ensure we don’t miss this opportunity,” says Dr Rhys Jones, co-convenor of OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council.

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Health groups call for fast, fair climate action

 

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Health groups have come out today in an editorial (freely available online) in the New Zealand Medical Journal, highlighting serious health disparities as a result of climate change. They state that urgent action, based on a fair approach to reducing global climate emissions, is essential for health and equity.

The editorial was written by Dr Scott Metcalfe, for the New Zealand College of Public Health Medicine and OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council.

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Health professionals welcome NZ climate target legal challenge

Health professionals are welcoming a Waikato law student’s legal challenge of the NZ Government’s weak target for reducing climate emissions.

Sarah Thomson is suing the Government, claiming NZ’s greenhouse gas emissions targets were arrived at illegally, and that the pledge NZ will take to the upcoming international negotiations in Paris is “unreasonable and irrational”.

Earlier this year many health professionals and organisations – representing doctors, nurses, and public health professionals – submitted on NZ’s post-2020 climate target. Their submissions called for ambitious targets that would protect and promote the health of New Zealanders. They included the NZ Medical Association and the NZ Nurses Organisation, representing over 50,000 professionals.

But the consultation process made it clear that the health gains from climate action and the human health costs of inaction were being ignored. The emissions reduction target eventually submitted by New Zealand – an 11 percent reduction on 1990 levels by 2030 – has been widely condemned as grossly inadequate.

“New Zealand’s target is much lower than what scientists say is needed from countries to avoid dangerous levels of climate change that will be catastrophic to human health,” says Dr Rhys Jones, co-convenor of OraTaiao: The NZ Climate and Health Council. “Yet well-planned action to reduce climate-damaging emissions could immediately improve our health and wellbeing.”

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‘Our Climate Our Health’ campaign puts health at the heart of climate action

A global climate-health campaign ‘Our Climate Our Health’ launched this week aims to put health at the heart of climate negotiations and policy.

The Global Climate and Health Alliance (GCHA) campaign aims to raise awareness of the ways that climate change impacts on health, and the health benefits of climate action.

‘Our Climate Our Health’ joins the building health voice calling for health to be central to climate negotiations and policy, along with ‘Doctorsforclimateaction’, the World Health Organization, and NZ Health Professionals.

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16 health professional groups call for healthy climate action in NZ

Sixteen of NZ’s most prestigious health professional organisations are today calling for New Zealand to take urgent action on climate change and health, a critical health issue.

These health groups represent tens of thousands of doctors, nurses, midwives, public health workers, and medical students, as well as all the medical and health sciences staff and students at Auckland and Otago Universities.

The 16 groups are calling on the NZ government, the health sector, and all levels of society to make an urgent transition to a low-emissions NZ, in ways that boost health and create a fairer society.

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