Media Releases


Prevention of fracking harms would be shackled by trade deal

A new report concludes that fracking practices in NZ pose risks to health and the environment. The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has recommended that regulations be overhauled and tightened to protect New Zealanders from harm. But the Government’s secret trade negotiations would allow foreign fossil fuel companies to sue us if we do so. Again, this
report demonstrates how the TPPA will undermine our sovereignty in addressing our most important public health issues like climate change.

 

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Midwives Call for Urgent Climate Action

The New Zealand College of Midwives has successfully called for urgent climate action, with a ground-breaking position statement on climate change accepted today by the International Confederation of Midwives meeting in Prague.

The Confederation, representing more than 300,000 midwives from 102 nations, recognises the serious consequences of our changing climate for women, babies and their families, as well as midwives themselves.

 

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Doctors call for all political parties to act on climate

New Zealand doctors have welcomed recent political efforts on climate change, and are calling for real action by all political parties for what is a leading health challenge.

The ‘Climate Protection Plan’ released today by the Green Party has been welcomed by OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council, as a specific, fair and realistic plan to curb our greenhouse pollution.

 

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Doctors support healthy and just transition for coal communities

The Health group OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council has welcomed today’s launch of the report ‘Jobs After Coal’ by Coal Action Network Aotearoa (CANA).

“This report dispels the myth that coal extraction is necessary for jobs and economic security in New Zealand” says Dr Rhys Jones, Co-convenor for the Council. “But most importantly, this report reminds us of the risk of runaway climate change from continuing unrestrained fossil fuel exploitation.”

 

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Negotiations put multinational profits before health, say health professionals

More than 270 healthcare professionals from around New Zealand have signed an open letter to the Prime Minister published in the Dominion Post today, warning of the threat to New Zealanders’ health from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

Leaked text of the TPPA chapter on investment contains major provisions saying that business interests can sue governments for billions of dollars if a country introduces a law and a foreign investor would lose substantial value or profits. These provisions in the trade agreements (called Investor State Dispute Settlement) apply irrespective of what the business is and say that government regulation must not get in the way of investors’ profit.

 

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Doctors say Wellington transport study needs a health check

A group representing OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council, which consists of around 200 health professionals, is calling for an urgent revision of Wellington’s public transport plans. They presented their concerns to a panel of local mayors and NZTA in Wellington today.

The doctors say the current Public Transport Spine Study (PTSS) takes no account of the measures needed to counter climate change, and ignores the impact of different modes of transport on human health.

 

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NZ doctors say Kyoto cop-out threatens our climate and health

OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council is appalled that our government has now refused to join a second Kyoto commitment period. This ends a bleak week for climate action with changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme removing any pretence of reducing emissions.

 

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Doctors respond ‘NZ can’t wait for everyone else to act’

The NZ Climate and Health Council calls on the government to listen to New Zealanders and take real action on climate change.

For a country like New Zealand, standing on the sidelines waiting for everyone else to act first is not an option. Council spokesperson Dr Rhys Jones says: ‘New Zealand is climate-exposed with our agriculture and fishing industries, and we need the cooperation of the rest of the world. But we cannot underestimate the chilling message we send if New Zealanders, as some of the highest climate polluters in the world and with plentiful natural resources, refuse to develop a low emissions economy.’

 

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Don't downsize NZ emissions scheme after superstorm Sandy

Doctors say the Government’s plans to downsize New Zealand’s only tool to combat climate change puts our country’s health at risk.

‘We’ve all seen the frightening footage of the devastation caused by superstorm Sandy this week’, says Dr Rhys Jones from the NZ Climate and Health Council. ‘If climate change continues unchecked, storms like this are predicted to become a regular occurrence. Yet our Government is pressing on with plans to water down our Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) that will make it completely useless.

The ETS Bill is likely to reach the committee stages this Tuesday 6 November, after having passed the second reading with a slim majority of 61 to 59. The Council is asking each of those 61 parliamentarians to reflect on the dangers to New Zealand’s economy, environment and health of rejecting a low emissions future.

The Council notes the majority of New Zealanders want action on climate change, according to the Horizon NZ survey released in August this year and this number is likely to have swelled since witnessing the extreme devastation of Sandy and rising global food prices as a result of US Mid-West droughts.

Yet 61 members of parliament’, says Dr Jones, ‘plan to pass legislation next week that will lock New Zealand into a high emissions economy and bloat our government debt by tens of billions of dollars by the mid-2020s. Foresters have already warned that the planned changes will reverse tree planting efforts.

Dr Jones says: ‘The reality is that is that our country has so many natural resources to grow food, plant forests and generate almost all our energy sustainably. There are also real health gains from low emissions lifestyles that enable New Zealanders to live longer, healthier and happier.’

‘New Zealand’s refusal to act responsibly, despite being amongst the highest climate polluters internationally, sends a terrible message to the rest of the world as we approach another round of international climate talks at the end of this month’, the Council concludes.

ENDS 

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Doctors say weak law leaves door wide open for coal-powered climate change

Doctors say the decision to grant resource consent for a new coal mine in the North Waikato shows how the law in New Zealand is failing to protect human health from the negative effects of climate change.

Glencoal, owned by Fonterra, wants to build and operate the Mangatangi Open-Cast Coal Mine in rural Waikato to provide coal to the boilers of Fonterra’s dairy factories at Waitoa, Te Awamutu and Hautapu.

Coal, as the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel, is a major driver of our changing climate. The latest UN climate scientists consensus report explains the limited carbon budget that the world faces, with a call for ‘substantial and sustained’ emissions reductions. It’s now widely recognised that to avoid a dangerously changing climate with food and water shortages, extreme weather events and increased infectious disease, then most of the world’s known reserves of fossil fuels must stay in the ground.

Dr Hayley Bennett from OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council says “Not being able to talk about climate change under the Resource Management Act is very frustrating”.

Dr Bennett explains “The Courts in New Zealand have decided that it isn’t necessary for local authorities to take into account effects on climate change in resource consent decisions. In the Mangatangi case, the local Council did not have to consider how mining and burning this coal will damage our climate, nor did it need to consider the economic risks of investing in last century technology”.

Doctors from OraTaiao believe legal frameworks in New Zealand are failing to protect people from the negative health effects of climate change.

Dr Bennett says “The combination of a Resource Management Act that ignores the climate impact of local consent decisions with an ineffective Emissions Trading Scheme, means that climate threats are not dealt with at either local or national levels. Yet our changing climate is arguably the biggest risk to human health, our environment and our economy.”

As well as changing our global climate, coal mining also has potential health costs for local communities. There can be health impacts at each step of mining, transport, and combustion of coal. “Although we recognise that coal mining has been an important source of employment for some regions, we argue that communities deserve healthier, more sustainable employment, as part of New Zealand’s transition to a secure, low carbon future”.

“Despite the barriers to stopping coal’s health and climate damage, our duty as doctors and health professionals is protecting the health of our patients and communities”, ends Dr Bennett.

ENDS 

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