Health at the heart of climate action
14 October 2015
'Our Climate Our Health' campaign puts health at the heart of climate action
A global climate-health campaign ‘Our Climate Our Health’, launched this week, aims to put health at the heart of climate negotiations and policy.
The Global Climate and Health Alliance (GCHA) campaign will raise awareness of the ways in which climate change impacts on health, and the health benefits of climate action.
'Our Climate Our Health’ joins the building health voice calling for health to be central to climate negotiations and policy, along with ‘Doctors for climate action’, the World Health Organization, and NZ Health Professionals.
Health threats globally and for New Zealand include illness and injury from heat waves and extreme weather events, changing patterns of infectious diseases, and wider impacts from loss of livelihoods, food and water shortages, migration, and conflict.
But well-planned action to reduce climate-damaging emissions could improve health and wellbeing, and help ease pressure on the national health budgets.
"For example, rapid moves to more walking, cycling and public transport will cut transport emissions, reduce air pollution, and boost physical activity – impacting obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and respiratory disease,” says Dr Macmillan from The NZ Climate and Health Council.
New research has outlined the health and economic gains expected for different countries depending on their post 2020 climate targets (INDCs). For example China’s emissions reduction plans will save 75 lives per million people per year because of less air pollution, but stronger targets would lead to larger gains.
“The emerging international research is beginning to demonstrate that New Zealand’s weak targets not only fail to make a fair contribution to protecting health by maintaining a healthy climate, they also mean New Zealanders are missing out on huge health and wellbeing benefits that could be gained through climate action,” says Dr Macmillan.
“The ‘Our Climate Our Health’ campaign is another clear message to governments, the health sector, and society that health is at the heart of climate change.”