Media Releases

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



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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Our climate, our health: WHO calls for urgent action by NZ health professionals

Today the World Health Organization is calling for health professionals around the world to push for a strong effective climate agreement at the UN Climate Conference in Paris this December. In the WHO’s words, “health professionals have a duty of care to current and future generations”.

Dr Alex Macmillan, co-convenor of OraTaiao, NZ’s Climate and Health Council, says that the WHO claims the Paris Climate Conference can create “the most important health agreement of the century”.

“The WHO states clearly that this is an opportunity to not only address the climate crisis and its health consequences, but to also create large, immediate health gains, reducing costs to health systems and communities”, explains Dr Macmillan.

More details on the WHO’s call can be found at its webpage dedicated to its global change campaign at

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Cross-party climate action is essential health investment

“New Zealand is missing out on too many health opportunities by leaving real climate planning to just a couple of political parties” says Dr Alex Macmillan, co-convenor of OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council.

Today the Green Party has launched ‘Yes we can! A plan for significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions’, which demonstrates how New Zealand could achieve a 40% reduction in climate pollution by 2030 in an affordable way.  The Council would like to see strong climate leadership shared by all political parties.

“As world-leading medical journal The Lancet recently reported, a business-as-usual approach to climate change will undo the important health and life expectancy gains of the last half century.  The Lancet also described tackling climate change as potentially the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century” says Dr Macmillan.

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Health professionals say Dutch court ruling on climate change 'duty of care' relevant to NZ

In a world first, the Dutch court has ordered the state to reduce its climate-changing emissions by 25% (on 1990 levels) in the next five years, to protect its people from climate change.

The law suit was brought to the courts by the Urgenda Foundation, backed by 900 citizens.

The court ruled that because of the great risks posed by climate change, the State has a ‘duty of care’ to take stronger action to reduce climate change (mitigation). 

This ruling comes in the same week as a leading international medical journal The Lancet has reconfirmed climate change as the biggest global health threat of the 21st century.

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‘Healthy Climate, Healthy People’


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