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Kyoto Targets Essential to Health – Expert

Kyoto Targets Essential to Health – International Climate Change Expert

Media release, 5 July 2006

An international expert on climate change is urging New Zealand to stick to its Kyoto targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The plea comes amid reports that the Government appears to have all but abandoned efforts to meet its Kyoto targets by 2012.

Professor Tony McMichael, from the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at the Australian National University, is an international expert on the effect of climate change on health. Professor McMichael is a keynote speaker at the Public Health Association Conference in Palmerston North.

He says that it is vital that countries do everything they can to address global warming.

“We now know that climate change is occurring. The severity and frequency of recent storms around the world is just one of the signs. The Kyoto agreement must be supported, and targets met, if we are to avoid the catastrophic effects of climate change on human life and health now and into the future.”

Professor McMichael says that higher temperatures increase the risk of disease and illness.

“The World Health Organization estimates that 160,000 deaths a year are caused by climate change. These deaths are due to malaria, food scarcity, diarrhoea, and flooding. Warmer weather assists the spread of insect-borne diseases like malaria and dengue fever, while climatic changes and extreme weather will reduce crop yields.

“Heat waves can also cause illness and death from heat stress.’

He says that all countries must reduce their emissions, which, through global climate change, pose a critical threat to our health and to the planet.

“New Zealand is no exception.”

ENDS

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