Source: OraTaiao, 31 October 2017
New research shows that climate change is already damaging the
health of millions of people and is a looming global health
emergency. These are the conclusions of a joint reportfromThe
Lancet Countdown, an international research collaboration that
provides a global overview of the relationship between public
health and climate change.
Dr Rhys Jones, Co-convenor of OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate
and Health Council, says the report should prompt widespread,
urgent action. "It shows that the effects of climate change on
human health are undeniable and potentially irreversible."
New Zealand is not immune to the threats posed by climate
change, as highlighted in a recent Royal Society of New Zealand
report,Human Health Impacts of Climate Change for New Zealand.
"Direct and indirect impacts on health are already being seen in
New Zealand. And we can expect worsening illness and injury from
heat and other extreme weather, changing patterns of infectious
diseases, freshwater degradation, loss of livelihoods and food
"Those on low incomes, Māori, Pacific people, children and older
people will be hit first and hardest, but nobody will be immune to
the widespread health effects of unchecked climate change," says Dr
TheLancet Countdownreport also highlights that the inadequate
global response to climate change over the past 25 years has
jeopardised human health and resulted in avoidable deaths.
However, Dr Jones says that we still have an opportunity to turn
this looming medical emergency into the most significant advance
for public health this century.
"The potential benefits and opportunities are staggering, and we
know what actions are needed. Rapidly phasing out coal; switching
from car trips to more walking, cycling and public transport;
healthier diets lower in red meat and dairy; and energy efficient,
warm homes will all cut emissions while also reducing many of the
major diseases that kill New Zealanders."
"It's a timely wake-up call for New Zealand. With a new
government, there is significant potential for a step-change in
efforts to tackle both the causes and impacts of climate
"Climate change threatens to undermine the last 50 years of
gains in public health, but we can turn it into a golden
opportunity for better health and a fairer society. It's
make-or-break time," says Dr Jones.
OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health
Council(OraTaiao, The Council) is an incorporated society of over
500 health professionals calling for urgent and fair climate
action. We know that climate changes fundamentally threaten human
health and wellbeing - and that well-designed climate action can
mean greater health and fairness now and in the longer term. Within
its membership, OraTaiao has some of the world's leading
climate-health experts. We link with international climate-health
organisations internationally, plus other New Zealand health
groups. See more at www.orataiao.org.nz/
Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and
Climate Change 2017 Report
The report and supporting information are available here.
Royal Society of New Zealand Report: Human Health
Impacts of Climate Change for New Zealand
The report and supporting information are available
NZ-specific climate-health information:
'Health and equity impacts of climate change in Aotearoa-New
Zealand, and health gains from climate action'.