OraTaiao Media Release
Climate change could undo 50 years of progress or be a
golden opportunity for better health - It's make-or-break time for
It's time for the government to put health and fairness at the
centre of strong climate action. In the last half century we have
seen a leap forward in health and life expectency. But
world-leading medical journal The Lancet says in a report released
today that our business-as-usual approach to climate change will
undo these improvements. But it also shows that tackling climate
change could be the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st
The report combines up-to-date knowledge about the impacts of
climate change on our everyday lives, combined with worldwide
experience so far of the costs and benefits of policies and
"We welcome this definitive report on climate change as an
urgent issue for our health," says Dr Alex Macmillan from the NZ
Climate and Health Council.
She says New Zealand is not immune from the threats described in
the report. Direct and indirect climate change impacts are already
being seen here as a result of warming oceans and sea level rise.
We can expect worsening illness and injury from heat and other
extreme weather, changing patterns of infection including food
poisoning, loss of seafood and farming livelihoods, food price
rises and mass migration from the Pacific. "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 and
social threats of unchecked climate change," she says.
"On the other hand, the report identifies clear health
opportunities from reducing greenhouse gas emissions, easing
pressure on national health budgets. New Zealand is no exception.
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 the diseases that kill New Zealanders most and
put our kids in hospital - cancer, heart disease, lung diseases and
car crash injuries."
"It's perfect timing for New Zealand. The government is
currently drawing up new plans for climate action ahead of global
talks in Paris later this year. But they have used very poor ways
to measure the costs of action, completely ignoring any benefits.
This report provides a clear framework for counting the costs and
benefits for health, including examples of economic savings where
actions have already been taken."
The Lancet Commission calls for political leadership to
decarbonise the global economy. Finances and technology are not the
problem - a lack of political will is holding our health to ransom.
"At the moment, governments spends more on subsidising the fossil
fuel industry than on healthcare. With urgent, health-centred
climate action we can afford to minimise this serious health threat
and improve health and fairness for ordinary people," says Dr
Together with health professionals around the world, we are
calling on the government to take urgent action on climate change,
including health in assessments of cost and benefit and placing
human wellbeing and fairness at the centre of healthy climate
Media Spokesperson: Dr Alex Macmillan, Mob. 021
322 625 Alex Macmillan (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Public
Health Physician and Senior Lecturer at the University of Otago and
Co-Convenor of OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health
OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health
Council are 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
Information is available in the following paper from the 2014 NZ
'Health and equity impacts of climate change in Aotearoa-New
Zealand, and health gains from climate action'.