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Collective action urged to avert climate crisis

Health professionals urge collective action to avert climate crisis

26 September 2019

Members of OraTaiao: NZ Climate and Health Council will join climate events around the country this Friday, 27 September, and are issuing a symbolic medical certificate, as part of the global strikes for climate movement.

“We are taking to the streets tomorrow to show our solidarity with striking students, because to avert the climate crisis requires collective action. As health workers we see it as our professional duty to urge leaders to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Dr Rhys Jones, Co-convenor of OraTaiao.

“For as long as adults in leadership and government fail to act adequately to prevent the worst impacts of climate change, we will support school students to strike in protection of their own futures.”

OraTaiao members will be joining climate strike events tomorrow in a number of centres including Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Rotorua.

“The effects of climate change are already being felt across all areas of health and will only get worse unless we take urgent action,” said Dr Jones.

The effects of climate change on health include increased illness and deaths from high temperatures and other extreme weather events, increase in infectious disease, threats to food security and mental health impacts.

“The knowledge and means to control global emissions are available to us – we just need political will – such as the introduction of a strong Zero Carbon Act, bold action to reduce agricultural emissions and phasing out fossil fuels,” said Dr Jones.

“What’s more, these actions can have huge benefits for our health. Transforming food systems to provide plant-based diets with less red meat and dairy will contribute to preventing disease. Redesigning cities to encourage active transport would be yet another win-win for health and the environment.”

“We applaud the strong leadership shown by young people in advocating for a safe and healthy future for everyone. Our society’s failure to take genuine climate action is an appalling intergenerational betrayal. At this time, more than ever, we need to listen to the voices of young people and take action.”

ENDS


Dr Rhys Jones(Ngāti Kahungunu) (rg.jones@auckland.ac.nz) is a Public Health Physician and Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland, and Co-convenor of OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council.

OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate & Health Council is a health professional organisation urgently focusing on the health threats of climate change and the health opportunities of climate action. See: www.orataiao.org.nz

Notes to editors:

Symbolic medical certificate is attached

School Strike for Climate Action NZ

More information is available at https://www.schoolstrike4climatenz.com/

Health 4 #ClimateStrike
More information is available at https://www.health4climatestrike.net/

About Climate Change and Health
Information is available in the following paper from the 2014 NZ Medical Journal:‘Health and equity impacts of climate change in Aotearoa-New Zealand, and health gains from climate action’. http://www.nzma.org.nz/journal/read-the-journal/all-issues/2010-2019/2014/vol-127-no-1406/6366

Health threats from climate changes include: 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. Direct and indirect climate change impacts are already being seen here from warming oceans and sea level rise.

Health opportunities from reducing greenhouse gas emissions, easing pressure on health budgets include: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 children in hospital – cancer, heart disease, lung diseases and car crash injuries.


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