Select Committee hearing: Health sector groups ask for strong Zero Carbon Bill to include health

Select Committee hearing: Health sector groups ask for strong Zero Carbon Bill to include health

MEDIA RELEASE29 August 2019

This morning at Environment Select Committee hearings, five health sector groups representing more than 55,000 health workers, called for health and fairness to be at the heart of a strengthened Zero Carbon Bill.

“We support a Zero Carbon Bill to help us stay within 1.5 degrees of global warming to protect people’s wellbeing from the impacts of climate change. It also needs to be strengthened to take advantage of the huge opportunities of well-designed climate policy for better health and wellbeing. With well-designed climate policy we would expect to see substantial health gains,” says Dr Alexandra Macmillan, Co-convenor, OraTaiao: NZ Climate & Health Council.

Groups submitting to the Select Committee this morning were OraTaiao: NZ Climate & Health Council, NZ Nurses Organisation, NZ Medical Association, Public Health Association of NZ, and NZ College of Public Health Medicine. More than 20 organisations, representing much of the healthcare workforce, also made written submissions on the Zero Carbon Bill. 

“There could be a good news story with this bill. If we start reducing our emissions now we can improve our health and wellbeing as well as minimising the harm associated with climate change, especially if we design policy well,” says Dr Macmillan. “Food production is one area where huge gains can be achieved by transforming to clean, plant-based food production. This could improve freshwater quality, while making healthy diets more affordable and reducing chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer and diabetes.”

Our current high-emissions come with substantial burdens of injury, illness and death that undermine our society and economy. However, the associated health benefits could be substantial if we reduce emissions through avenues such as healthier diets, greater engagement in physical activity, and reduced air pollution. These actions would help prevent disease and significantly lessen financial pressures on hospitals. 

“The bill needs significant strengthening with stronger targets on gases in line with IPCC scenarios and to commit to meeting emissions budgets through domestic efforts. It also needs to put Te Tiriti o Waitangi at its heart to effectively protect Māori wellbeing and contribute to the elimination of health and social inequalities. We need a healthy, strong, enforceable bill that brings accountability for government, organisations and businesses,” says Dr Macmillan.

After the hearing this morning a group of health sector workers, including Dr Macmillan and other submitters, gathered on the steps of parliament to show their support for the bill.


Media Spokesperson: Dr Alex Macmillan, Mob. 021 322 625
Dr Alex Macmillan ([email protected]) is a Public Health Physician and Senior Lecturer at the University of Otago and Co-Convenor of OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council.

Watch coordinated health submissions on Zero Carbon Bill to Environment Select Committee
N.B. The health sector session starts 27 minutes into this video.
Five organisations submitting:

  • Dr Alexandra Macmillan, Co-convenor, OraTaiao: NZ Climate & Health Council
  • Rachel Dobrić, Campaigner, NZ Nurses Organisation
  • Lesley Clarke, CEO, NZ Medical Association
  • Dr Prudence Stone, CEO, Public Health Association of NZ
  • Dr Alexandra Macmillan spoke to the written submission from the NZ College of Public Health Medicine.

OraTaiao’s written submission on the Zero Carbon Bill:

Health organisations who made a written submission on the Zero Carbon Bill:
Nelson Marlborough Health, Northland District Health Board, Canterbury District Health Board, Southern District Health Board, Auckland Regional Public Health Service, Regional Public Health   (Wellington), MidCentral Public Health Service, New Zealand College Public Health Medicine, Royal Australasian College of Physicians, New Zealand College of Midwives, Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, College of Nurses Aotearoa (NZ) Inc, OraTaiao The New Zealand Climate and Health Council, New Zealand Medical Association, New Zealand Nurses Organisation, Public Health Association of New Zealand, Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington, Palmerston North Women’s Health Collective, Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand, Pegasus Health.

See the Health Professionals Joint Call for Action on Climate Change and Health here:

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