NZ failing to protect health from climate change impacts – world health body

NZ failing to protect health from climate change impacts – world health body

MEDIA RELEASE, 17 May 2023

Ahead of UN climate change negotiations in Dubai at the end of the year, a report from the Global Climate and Health Alliance has delivered a damning assessment of New Zealand’s commitment to a healthy, climate safe future. 

The Alliance is a coalition of over 150 health and development organisations working to tackle climate change, including OraTaiao. It works with the World Health Organisation and others to raise the voice of health professionals at the international level. 

Examining the pledges in New Zealand’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to the goals of the Paris Agreement across six health categories, the Alliance has awarded a net score of zero. Bottom-ranked New Zealand shares this spot with just five other countries. New Zealand also scores poorly in its level of ambition with regard to its emissions reduction targets in the NDC. [1]

“The assessment of our global coalition partners sadly confirms our own view of the government’s commitments”, says OraTaiao Co-convenor Dr Dermot Coffey. 

“We have appealed repeatedly to the agencies and Ministers involved in shaping and updating our NDC, right up to the Prime Minister. But despite our urging, the government still has not placed health and wellbeing at the heart of our international climate response and our emissions reductions targets remain woefully inadequate.” [2][3][4] 

“Immediate effects of climate change on the health and wellbeing of communities have been felt this year”, adds OraTaiao Co-convenor Summer Wright, “including in the tragic deaths and suffering caused by Cyclone Gabrielle and other extreme weather events.” 

“These effects have been felt disproportionately by children, people with disabilities, those in rural areas, low-income families, Pacific communities and Māori. The failures in New Zealand’s NDC and emissions reductions targets identified by the Alliance also represent failures to reduce inequities and honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi.”

OraTaiao has recently provided advice to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Manatū Aorere on how it can improve its approach to climate change negotiations this year, including urgently updating New Zealand’s NDC to meet our fair share of emissions reductions, strengthening commitments to human health and health equity and centralising Te Tiriti. [5]

The benefits of adopting this health-focused climate action are profound, with potentially transformative gains for healthier and more equitable societies. 


[1] Healthy NDC Scorecard: As ‘Health COP’ Approaches, Analysis Shows Big Emitting Nations Doing Too Little to Protect Health from Climate Change.

[2] Letter to PM ahead of COP26.

[3] Consultation on approach to COP26 – Letter to Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

[4] Climate Change Commission's first package of advice to the Government "Climate action for Aotearoa".

[5] "Global cooperation to secure the 1.5°C limit" – Submission on NZ’s Approach to International Climate Change Negotiations 2023.



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