This section has our latest media work (including media releases, opinion editorials, radio and television interviews, and letters to the editor), as well as the latest submissions, publications, briefing papers and position statements.

To access older items, please click on the relevant links above. Media enquiries, see contact us.


Launch of UK Health Alliance on Climate Change

An alliance of some of the UK's most prominent health and medical associations has just been launched, to elevate the health professional's response to climate change.

The Presidents of each of the foundation members have written to the UK Secretary of State for Health with a number of initial policy positions and a request for a meeting, and this has been received positively.

See their website, and more details below.

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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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Resource Legislation Amendment Bill 2015

OraTaiao submission to the Environment Select Committee on the “Resource Legislation Amendment Bill 2015”.  14 March 2016.

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Submission to the TPPA Select Committee

OraTaiao submission to Parliamentary Select Committee: International treaty examination of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), 11 March 2016

'Our main concern is: Climate change is a major issue of human health and survival. It requires urgent action globally and in New Zealand (NZ) to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions – particularly the emissions from fossil fuels. The TPPA will hinder the ability of NZ (and the other signatory nations) to pass policy and regulation to achieve this.'

Read full submission here.

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Emissions Trading Scheme 2015/16 Review - Priority Issues

OraTaiao submission NZ Emissions Trading Scheme 2015/16 Review - Priority Issues. 24 February 2016.

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Wellington Airport Runway Extension Proposal feedback

OraTaiao submission on Wellington Airport Runway Extension Proposal. 12 February 2016.

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Five ideas for Wellington City Council’s 2016/17 draft Annual Plan

OraTaiao’s five ideas for Wellington City Council’s 2016/17 draft Annual Plan. Submission 5 February 2016.

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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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Blog 3 from our co-convenor in Paris

Paris Blog 3 - Civil society in the Green Zone at COP21 climate negotiations. OraTaiao co-convenor Dr Alex Macmillan gives some interesting insights into the activities of civil society at the Paris climate negotiations. Read here.

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Op Ed in NZ Herald, 31 Dec 2015

TPP could trump climate accord. Drs Josh Freeman and Hayley Bennett. New Zealand Herald, 31 Dec 2015

Trade deal gives polluters power to sue governments who try to implement the Paris agreement. More here.

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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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Blog 2 from our co-convenor in Paris

Health in the COP21 – the final 24 hours of negotiations

From the start of this round of negotiations, it seemed clear that the climate and health message was getting through.  At least for low- and middle-income countries the link between climate is a clear and present danger to health on a daily basis.

Not only that, it was obvious that the negotiators had learnt from Copenhagen and built the international political will for a global agreement that might be strong enough to protect human health equitably.

In the lead-up to the COP and over the last week, the French have been using their famed diplomacy to the utmost to ensure success.

The Agreement itself is short compared with previous attempts – the draft released at the start of the week by the diplomats a mere pamphlet at 20 pages long, with the latest version at 27 pages. This includes a preamble of short paragraphs where values and matters considered are introduced followed by the Treaty itself as a series of Articles.

A health protecting agreement would be one that all the major emitting countries have signed up to, it would set a ceiling on the amount of greenhouse gases that can be emitted in keeping with the a goal of leaving nobody behind, and it would include clear timeframes and mechanisms for accountability.

So how has human health fared in the agreement as it’s come together over the last week?

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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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Blog from our co-convenor in Paris

Blog Paris Numero 1 - OraTaiao Co-convenor Dr Alex Macmillan Reports from Paris

Almost before I begin this it will be out of date. Things are moving fast in COP21 and it’s impossible to stay current in such fluid negotiations.

I arrived last Friday for the Climate and Health Summit, organised by the Global Climate and Health Alliance, alongside WHO. OraTaiao had a prime stand – the first thing people saw as they came out of the auditorium was our banner on the wall. There was a lot of interest in our journal articles which disappeared fast and generated lots of conversation.  In particular, the article linking human rights, climate change and hauora Māori began quite a few discussions about how health professionals might link human rights to hold governments accountable on climate action.

More than 300 people attended the summit and what was most heartening were the number of non-health people there, including representatives of local government, like the Deputy Mayor of Paris, and of non-health sectors of national government. John Vidal, Environment reporter for the Guardian, chaired the day. Although he was frustrated by the lateness with which health had coalesced around climate change, he was heartened by the positive action taking place. He contrasted the mood within the negotiations of “We won’t”, with the mood at the climate and health summit of “We can”.

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Submission on Update of the NZ Health Strategy

OraTaiao submission on the Update of the NZ Health Strategy. December 2015.

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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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TV One News People's Climate March 28th Nov

TV One News talks to OraTaiao co-convenor Dr Rhys Jones (and others) at the historic People's Climate March in Auckland.

Watch here.

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Op Ed in NZ Herald, 27 Nov 2015

TPP must not block the path to healthy climate action. Drs Alex Macmillan and Rhys Jones. New Zealand Herald, 27 Nov 2015

The path towards a healthy climate will be a rocky one in the coming year. December's global negotiations in Paris are a crucial crossroads for choosing between bold new routes to health through well-designed climate action or continuing to threaten human survival and wellbeing. Meanwhile, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement is about to add another giant obstacle to progress.

More here.

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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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OraTaiao is coordinating health people & friends/families for the People's Climate Marches 2015

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OraTaiao is coordinating groups of health people & friends/families to walk together in ten of 34 People's Climate Marches around NZ this weekend.

Our NZ marches will be the first of more than 2000 world-wide before the UN Climate Summit in Paris starts this Monday.

​This is the time to gather your family, friends, colleagues, organisations...and make history in the biggest climate marches ever. Wear white and dress up with white coats and stethoscopes if you like. 

Share your photos and comments on social media – tag in @OraTaiao so we can retweet, share on Facebook – and share with [email protected] so we can celebrate healthy climate action around NZ.

Photos from 28th Nov: Auckland, Hastings, Wellington, Christchurch, Rotorua

 

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore Quote, Nov 2015 (physician and immediate past president of the UK Royal College of Physicians)

“Doctors [and all other health professionals] need look no further than the clear evidence that what is good for the climate is also good for their patients’ health to give them a clear mandate for speaking out.  We remain respected and trusted within our communities and have a responsibility to make clear to them the urgency and enormity of the challenge to mitigate the impact of climate change.  What better way to do this than by marching".

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