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Doctors, nurses and public health professionals call on G7

Doctors, nurses and public health professionals call on G7 nations to end coal

More than 300,000 health professionals from 30 countries are asking G7 nations to speed up the move away from coal, in the interests of health and climate protection.

Eighty-two organisations have signed a Global Health Statement outlining the huge benefits to health, economies and the climate from cutting coal use. The Statement has been signed by OraTaiao: The NZ Climate and Health Council, and the Public Health Association of New Zealand.

The G7 meeting will be one of the first significant international gatherings since the Paris climate agreement saw all countries commit to limit global warming in December. The meeting will include discussions on strengthening responses to public health emergencies.

“Climate change is without doubt a public health emergency,” says Dr Macmillan of OraTaiao. “It has been described as ‘the biggest global health threat of the 21st century’ and a ‘medical emergency’ by leading international medical journals.”

Coal burning is one of the biggest single contributors to climate change, and at the local level coal burning already kills millions of people through outdoor air pollution's effect on heart and lung diseases.

“Phasing out coal will save lives immediately and in the long-term. In New Zealand, we still have 37 hospitals that use coal boilers for heating, which is directly contrary to the purpose of hospitals and the health system to protect and restore health,” says Dr Macmillan.

“It’s also recently been announced that the life of coal-fired Huntly power station is to be extended to 2022, which is clearly out of step with our need to rapidly phase out coal.

“We ask that New Zealand and other nations live up to their Paris climate commitments and seize the health opportunities of rapidly cutting out coal – including closing Huntly and ending coal use to warm our hospitals and schools.”

ENDS

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