Press Release: Auckland University
The government may be asking for public input on New Zealand's
planned action to address climate change in the lead-up to global
negotiations this year in Paris, but health is left out of the
equation, health groups say.
Doctors, nurses, public health professionals and medical
students today expressed alarm about the government's scrambled
public consultation on New Zealand's post-2020 climate
In the rushed round of public meetings, Ministry for the
Environment officials admitted not counting health gains from
climate action - nor counting the human health costs of inaction -
when calculating climate action "costs".
Dr Rhys Jones, co-convenor of OraTaiao, NZ Climate & Health
Council says: 'It's hard to take this climate consultation
seriously, when the government analysis has completely ignored New
Zealanders' health and well-being. This is totally irresponsible,
when the evidence tells us we must reduce climate-damaging
greenhouse gas emissions to keep our climate compatible with human
health and survival.'
'Placing human well-being and fairness at the centre of our
government's climate planning would see New Zealand push for a
global 2050 zero carbon emissions agreement in Paris this year. Our
government would legislate now for an independent Climate
Commission to oversee rapid emissions reductions, especially for
long-lived carbon dioxide. We would also see a credible cross-party
climate action plan, with concrete policies to rapidly reduce our
emissions put in place within the term of this government.'
'How we share the costs and benefits will also be crucial.
Changes to our climate will be hardest on the health of older
people, children, Māori, Pacific peoples and low income households.
Many people reading this will be in one or more of these groups
sooner or later,' says Dr Jones, 'yet this consultation ignores
health and fairness.'
'Smart climate action means real health gains that can be
counted,' says Dr Jones. 'The sooner we act, the better for health
- through warmer houses, enjoying being more active with our daily
commutes, and more local fresh fruit and vegetables.' Dr Jones says
'Our health also depends on a healthy economy, but instead of
future-proofing and diversifying in a world that's turning to clean
energy, New Zealand is fixated on an obsolete fossil-fuelled
economic model that's fiscally reckless and harmful to human health
- from transport spending that increases inactivity, to extracting
fossil fuels we can't risk burning.'
'Just as health professionals put the needs of their patients
first, we call on Ministers to prioritise New Zealanders' health
and wellbeing in calculating essential climate action,' ends Dr
• OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council www.orataiao.org.nz
• New Zealand Nurses Organisation www.nzno.org.nz
• Public Health Association of New Zealand www.pha.org.nz
• College of Nurses Aotearoa (NZ) www.nurse.org.nz/
• New Zealand Medical Students' Association www.nzmsa.org.nz
• Medical Students for Global Awareness (Wellington) www.facebook.com/groups/193398224034238
It is also endorsed by the New Zealand College of