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.
‘To announce this just weeks out from international climate security talks in Doha, sends a disturbing message to the rest of the world’ says Dr Rhys Jones of the Council. ‘The government has to realise that, globally, New Zealand is viewed as a lucky country with fertile farmland, a favourable climate, plentiful renewable energy resources and scope for forest expansion. We are also among the highest emitters per person in the world. Our refusal to play our part is simply inexcusable and flies in the face of our clean, green brand’.
‘Our government seems to be seriously misjudging both the interests of New Zealanders and our character’ says Dr Jones. ‘Time after time, we’ve played our part in international emergencies, from world wars to rushing emergency aid for natural disasters. Yet this government is sitting on the sidelines talking the talk about climate change – then waiting for everyone else to do the work.’
This latest announcement also begs the question, whose interests is this Government really listening to? Refusing to commit to action on climate change threatens our economic prosperity: our export sectors, for example, are highly dependent on a stable climate and ocean conditions. Most New Zealanders alive today will experience the damage that today’s climate pollution causes, including adverse impacts on health and wellbeing. Health impacts relevant to New Zealanders include increased infectious disease; injuries, death and disease due to floods, storms and heat-waves; impacts on allergic disease with changes in pollen seasons; and mental health effects.
Dr Jones concludes: ‘The bottom line is that the health and wellbeing of current and future New Zealanders is at risk – we need global co-operation on climate change to protect New Zealanders. But if we refuse to do anything, we can’t expect anyone else to. It’s time for New Zealand to join Australia and sign up to a second Kyoto commitment period now.’
OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council are senior doctors and other health professionals concerned with climate change as a serious public health threat. The Council is politically non-partisan. Climate change remains a clear and present danger of unprecedented scale, and is accepted by health authorities worldwide as the leading global health threat this century.