Media Releases


Staying cool and healthy in rising heat

MEDIA RELEASE
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.

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UN experts urge New Zealand to protect children’s rights from climate change

MEDIA RELEASE
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.

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Health professionals back call for a NZ Climate Act

MEDIA RELEASE

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. 

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Call for urgent health check on Wellington runway extension plans

MEDIA RELEASE
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.”

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Health professionals welcome Royal Society’s Climate risks report, and highlight importance of risks to health

MEDIA RELEASE
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.”

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Doctor speaking to Studholme hearing says the law is an ass

MEDIA RELEASE
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.

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British health institutions and the White House spotlight the health impacts of climate change

MEDIA RELEASE
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.

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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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