26 January 2018
Health professionals remain concerned that the so-called Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) will obstruct action to address major 21stcentury health threats such as climate change.
Without decisive action, the impacts of climate change on health in the coming decades will be serious and far-reaching. These impacts have been described clearly in a recent report published by the Royal Society of New Zealand.
Urgent action is therefore needed to reduce future impacts on health, and to take advantage of the enormous opportunities to improve New Zealanders’ health right here and now. This includes rapidly transitioning our economies to renewable energy.
“If the government really wants a zero-carbon economy by 2050 there’s no way to avoid policies that seriously threaten the fossil fuel and other high-carbon industries,” says Dr Rhys Jones, Co-convenor of OraTaiao, The NZ Climate and Health Council.
“At exactly the time governments need to start saying ‘no’ to fossil fuel companies, the CPTPP would further empower those companies to retaliate. This includes initiating expensive lawsuits in offshore tribunals,” says Dr Jones.
“We need to learn from experience with the tobacco industry,” says Dr Jones. “The tobacco industry has consistently used every legal option available to resist public health interventions. As the business model of the fossil fuel industry comes under similar threat, there’s every reason to believe it will behave in the same way,” says Dr Jones.
“While a special legal clause is included in the CPTPP to prevent lawsuits from the tobacco industry, no similar safeguard is included for the fossil fuel industry. As New Zealand and other CPTPP countries begin the urgent transition away from fossil fuels, this seems completely incoherent,” says Dr Jones.
“New Zealanders deserve to know exactly how the CPTPP would affect our ability to protect health and address climate change in the coming decades,” says Dr Jones. “The CPTPP must have a thorough and independent assessment by credible, independent public health and legal experts before our Government commits us to this agreement.”
Media Spokesperson: Dr Rhys Jones, Ph. 021 411 743
Dr Rhys Jones (Ngāti Kahungunu) ([email protected]) is a Public Health Physician and Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland, and Co-convenor of OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council.
TPPA should not be adopted without a full, independent health assessment. Article in the NZ Medical Journal, February 2016. Available here.
OraTaiao Submission to Parliamentary Select Committee: International treaty examination of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). Submission available here.
Royal Society of New Zealand Report: Human Health Impacts of Climate Change for New Zealand
The report and supporting information are available here.
NZ-specific climate-health information:
‘Health and equity impacts of climate change in Aotearoa-New Zealand, and health gains from climate action’. Available here.