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Health sector groups ask for Carbon Bill to include health

This morning at Environment Select Committee hearings, five health sector groups representing more than 55,000 health workers, called for health and fairness to be at the heart of a strengthened Zero Carbon Bill.

“We support a Zero Carbon Bill to help us stay within 1.5 degrees of global warming to protect people’s wellbeing from the impacts of climate change. It also needs to be strengthened to take advantage of the huge opportunities of well-designed climate policy for better health and wellbeing. With well-designed climate policy we would expect to see substantial health gains,” says Dr Alexandra Macmillan, Co-convenor, OraTaiao: NZ Climate & Health Council.

Groups submitting to the Select Committee this morning were OraTaiao: NZ Climate & Health Council, NZ Nurses Organisation, NZ Medical Association, Public Health Association of NZ, and NZ College of Public Health Medicine. More than 20 organisations, representing much of the healthcare workforce, also made written submissions on the Zero Carbon Bill.

“There could be a good news story with this bill. If we start reducing our emissions now we can improve our health and wellbeing as well as minimising the harm associated with climate change, especially if we design policy well,” says Dr Macmillan. “Food production is one area where huge gains can be achieved by transforming to clean, plant-based food production. This could improve freshwater quality, while making healthy diets more affordable and reducing chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer and diabetes.”

Our current high-emissions come with substantial burdens of injury, illness and death that undermine our society and economy. However, the associated health benefits could be substantial if we reduce emissions through avenues such as healthier diets, greater engagement in physical activity, and reduced air pollution. These actions would help prevent disease and significantly lessen financial pressures on hospitals.

“The bill needs significant strengthening with stronger targets on gases in line with IPCC scenarios and to commit to meeting emissions budgets through domestic efforts. It also needs to put Te Tiriti o Waitangi at its heart to effectively protect Māori wellbeing and contribute to the elimination of health and social inequalities. We need a healthy, strong, enforceable bill that brings accountability for government, organisations and businesses,” says Dr Macmillan.

After the hearing this morning a group of health sector workers, including Dr Macmillan and other submitters, gathered on the steps of parliament to show their support for the bill.


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