Press Release: OraTaiao
New Zealand can make huge gains for health, now and in the
future, by committing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
A Special Article on climate change and health is published
today in the
New Zealand Medical Journal. The article clearly demonstrates
that rather than being an environmental issue, climate change is
fundamentally an issue about people's survival and their health and
wellbeing. As well as describing risks to the health of New
Zealanders from climate change, the paper also highlights
opportunities for health and fairness.
"It's a win-win opportunity. There are widespread health risks
in our life-time here in New Zealand from climate change. But if we
take well-designed actions now to reduce emissions we can have huge
health benefits both now and into the future," says Dr Alex
Macmillan, co-convenor of OraTaiao: The NZ Climate and Health
The Special Article identifies great public transport, safer
cycling and walking, housing insulation, clean energy and better
diets as ways to get double benefit. These changes would give
immediate health benefits, especially to New Zealand's poorest
families, and would cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
"New Zealand has the opportunity right now to improve asthma,
heart disease, diabetes and cut injuries if we commit to an
ambitious GHG reduction target," says Dr Macmillan.
"New Zealand has a great opportunity to step up to the climate
challenge at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Lima
next week. If we opt for business-as-usual, we will miss the
opportunity for a more healthy, thriving population and a fairer
society right now."
About the New Zealand Medical Journal Special
The New Zealand Medical Journal Special Article is co-authored by
climate health experts, including Professor Alistair Woodward, lead
author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 5th
Assessment Report (IPCC AR5) chapter on health and Associate
Professor Simon Hales, lead editor of the World Health
Organisation's Quantitative risk assessment of the effects of
climate change on selected causes of death, 2030s and 2050s.
OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate & Health Council comprises
senior doctors and other health professionals concerned with
climate change as a serious public health threat.
They also promote the positive health gains that can be achieved
through action to address climate change. See: www.orataiao.org.nz
About Climate Change and Health
Climate and health information is available in the New Zealand
College of Public Health Medicine's
policy statement on climate change.
New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions per capita are one of the
highest in the world and analysis by the NZ College of Public Health
Medicine quantifies the extent that NZ needs to do
A recent editorial in The Lancet stated: "In 2009, a
Commission report published by The Lancet in
collaboration with University College London (UCL) stated that
"climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st
century. Five years later, we still believe this conclusion to be