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Doctors push for strong global climate action at Cancun

Doctors push for strong global climate action at Cancun

OraTaiao Media Release – 23 November 2010

Senior doctors are calling again for strong political leadership and action on climate change in the lead up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico starting later this month. The doctors, representing OraTaiao, a health professional organisation concerned about the health effects of climate change, say that urgent and decisive action is crucial.

There is compelling evidence the climate is changing, due to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions from human activity. It will have profound adverse effects on economic, social and cultural life and the sustainability of natural ecosystems. In other words, our changing climate threatens the foundations of health and wellbeing for human populations – and indeed our survival.

“In the face of this serious health threat, inaction would be negligence on a global scale”, says Dr George Laking, OraTaiao spokesperson and a senior clinician. “And yet inaction is what we are seeing. We are at a defining moment in human history and have a very small window of time in which to act, if we are to avoid the most serious consequences of climate change.”

Unified commitment to meaningful cuts in emissions, particularly by industrially developed nations, will be crucial to a successful outcome in Cancun. Halving our current level of emissions within the next decade is responsible, just, and possible.

“As health professionals, we are used to making critical decisions on the basis of imperfect information”, says Dr Laking. “Climate change, although on a completely different scale from ordinary day-to-day medical decisions, requires similar judgements. Science is rarely able to provide a complete and unquestionable understanding of an issue, but the science on climate change is certain enough for us to act against the imminent threat of irreversible damage. We can't afford to wait – we must act now on the compelling evidence at hand.”

“The climate crisis did not disappear after Copenhagen; instead, a year later, the crisis is even more urgent. We urge serious constructive action at the international negotiations in Cancun, knowing the immediate threat faced by our Pacific neighbours, and that action now will not only safeguard our future but will build a healthier New Zealand”, ends Dr Laking.


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