Doctors call for all political parties to act on climate Sunday, 1 June 2014

OraTaiao Media Release

New Zealand doctors have welcomed recent political efforts on climate change, and are calling for real action by all political parties for what is a leading health challenge.

The 'Climate Protection Plan' released today by the Green Party has been welcomed by OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council, as a specific, fair and realistic plan to curb our greenhouse pollution.

"We look forward to all the political parties revealing their plans to adequately address global warming. New Zealanders want a healthy future for our children. With the general election just months away, we need to make sure the party we vote for is serious about climate change", say Dr Alex Macmillan and Dr Rhys Jones from the Council.

Climate change is widely recognised by world health authorities and medical journals to be a leading global health threat this century. The Council says that climate change is already contributing to the global burden of disease and premature death, with worse to come. This is especially true for developing countries but also for Maori, Pacific and lower socio economic groups within New Zealand, widening existing unfairness in health outcomes.

"Fortunately, acting now to fix climate change gives New Zealand exciting opportunities for gains on illnesses relating to child poverty, physical inactivity, nutrition, housing, and air pollution from road transport - while future-proofing ourselves against the serious health risks of a dangerously warming world", says Dr Jones. "We have unprecedented opportunities to make a real difference to New Zealanders' health and wellbeing, right now, with well-planned policies that promote health and fairness - and protect our climate".

Housing insulation, clean energy, great public transport and safer walking and cycle ways will all give a double benefit. They give immediate health benefits, especially to New Zealand's poorest families, and also lead the way on reducing carbon emissions.

The Council looks forward to promises of real progress on one of New Zealand's most pressing health challenges for September's election. "With unprecedented opportunities for serious health gains and health sector savings for New Zealanders, a healthy response to our changing climate is the obvious choice for all political parties wanting to govern", ends Dr Macmillan.

ENDS