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Health professionals welcome Royal Society report

Health professionals welcome Royal Society’s climate risks report but highlight importance of risks to health

Health professionals, although welcoming the Royal Society of NZ’s report today on climate change in New Zealand, are concerned that it does not address the real health risks to New Zealanders from climate change and unhealthy responses to it, nor how these may widen health gaps.

"We welcome the Royal Society’s clear call to climate action from six high risk areas: coastal margins, river flooding, freshwater availability, ocean chemistry change, ecosystems threats, and flow-on effects from global climate changes and responses,” says Dr Rhys Jones of OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council.

“Yet climate change is also a global medical emergency and, importantly, an unprecedented opportunity for real health gains now.”

Dr Jones stresses that here in New Zealand, climate change will cause different impacts for different population groups – depending on location, age, ethnicity, health status, and socioeconomic circumstances. Maori, Pacific, and low-income groups in New Zealand risk greater adverse health impacts from climate change.

Yet there are significant untapped opportunities to improve health, reduce climate emissions and create a fairer society. “Healthy daily activity can be designed back into our transport systems - fossil-fuel free. Every New Zealand home, including rentals, can be healthier and cheaper to warm and cool, with huge benefits for children’s health. Encouraging food that’s healthier with more vegetables and fruit, and less meat and dairy, also reduces climate risk,” says Dr Jones.

The Council is calling for New Zealand to start leading real climate action here at home for better health – and protection of our land, freshwater, seas, ecosystems and economy.

“Climate changes have a human face, and create serious risks for New Zealanders’ health and wellbeing. Protection of our healthcare systems and most vulnerable households must be priorities,” says Dr Jones.

ENDS

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