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.


Greater Wellington Regional Council Annual Plan 2017/18

OraTaiao submission on Greater Wellington Regional Council Annual Plan 2017/18. 12 April 2017.

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Health professionals welcome today’s Zero Carbon Act launch

MEDIA RELEASE
10 April 2017

Health professionals congratulate Generation Zero on today’s Zero Carbon Act campaign launch.  

The Act is designed to reduce New Zealand’s long-lived greenhouse gas emissions to net zero within a generation. This means by 2050 our dangerous climate pollution will have been reduced enough to be completely absorbed by increased forests.

The Zero Carbon Act – modelled on the UK’s successful Climate Change Act passed by a conservative-led government in 2008 – will bind future governments to genuine action that protects New Zealand.

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Māori health leader speaks about climate change at COP22

MEDIA RELEASE
17 November 2016

Māori health leader speaks about climate change and the right to health at COP22

World leaders are meeting in Marrakesh to bring to life the promises made to limit climate change in the Paris Agreement. Earlier this week Rhys Jones, a Māori doctor and co-convenor of OraTaiao: The NZ Climate & Health Council, called for climate action that protects human rights, especially indigenous rights, children’s rights and the right to health.

Dr Jones is in Morocco at COP22 participating in an event hosted by the World Health Organization and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

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Hospitals should not be smoking a giant cigarette

MEDIA RELEASE
12 November 2016

Despite New Zealand being a signatory to the new Paris climate agreement, the Ministry of Health is considering the use of coal in Christchurch Hospital’s boiler. OraTaiao, the New Zealand Climate and Health Council and the New Zealand Medical Students’ Association (NZMSA) say to do so would be a mistake for the climate and for health. Although coal burning may achieve short-term financial savings, it is a false economy. Coal burning is inconsistent with the Ministry’s legislated responsibility to protect health. 

OraTaiao and the NZMSA are jointly urging the Ministry to support Christchurch Hospital’s switch to lower emission wood waste rather than coal.

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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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UN Committee on the Rights of the Child 2016 Day of Discussion “Children’s Rights and the Environment"

OraTaiao submission, July 2016

'Our submission considers the serious and potentially catastrophic impact of climate change on the rights of children; how climate change disproportionately affects children; States’ legal obligations; the role of States in relation to the business sector including investment treaties; children as agents of change; and putting children’s rights at the heart of climate policy offers major opportunities to increase children’s enjoyment of their rights.

'Our submission is informed by work we have done, including for the Action for Children and Youth Aotearoa alternative report on New Zealand to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.'

Read full submission here.

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Child rights and climate change in Aotearoa New Zealand

Submission, August 2016

Supplementary information for the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child provided by OraTaiao on behalf of Action for Children and Youth Aotearoa

'This background paper outlines how, as well as the unjust impacts on all children, there are some groups of Aotearoa NZ children disproportionately affected by climate change. We focus mainly on those groups. We also outline the absence of consideration of the best interests or views of children in the Aotearoa NZ Government’s climate policies, and the Government’s slow and ambivalent progress in taking the climate-related actions necessary to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of children. We recommend actions that the Aotearoa NZ Government should take as part of its obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).'

Read full submission here.

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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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NZ Herald: Climate Change a Medical Emergency

NZ Herald Science Reporter on Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change, with comment from co-convenors Dr Alex Macmillan and Dr Rhys Jones.

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Otago Daily Times: Students push fossil fuel issue

Dr Alex Macmillan quoted in this article about academics and students pushing for Otago University to divest from fossil fuels, in the interests of climate protection.

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39 Dunedin Television 15/10/2015 Local lecturer wants bold action on climate change

Dr Alex Macmillan interview on Dunedin Television about the joint NZ health groups' 'Call for Action on Climate Change and Health'. 

See here.

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NZ Herald: The Big Read: Kiwis weigh in on Paris climate conference

NZ Herald Article 11th December 2015 by Jamie Morton (Herald Science Reporter) with expert comment from Co-convenor Dr Alex Macmillan, who attended the Health Summit at the Paris climate negotiations in December 2015.

Read here

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Interviews with Co-Convenor Dr Alex Macmillan

Waatea News 13/10/2015 Live interview with Willie Jackson on Paakiwaha - Health Call to Action on Climate Change.

Radio NZ 30/6/2015 Te Manu Korihi News: Govt urged to take action on climate change.

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Wellington City Council’s Annual Plan 2016/17 and Carbon Plan Consultation

OraTaiao submission on Wellington City Council’s Annual Plan 2016/17 and Carbon Plan Consultation. 3 May 2016.

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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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Greater Wellington Regional Council’s draft Annual Plan 2016/2017

OraTaiao submission on Greater Wellington Regional Council’s draft Annual Plan 2016/2017. 18 April 2016.

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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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