With the Government announcing a go-slow on the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), New Zealand’s Climate and Health Council, OraTaiao, is calling on Minister Tim Groser to explain just how the Government will deliver its promised climate pollution cuts.
OraTaiao co-leader, Dr Rhys Jones, asks whether the Government understands the science and urgency of the global climate crisis. Dr Jones explains that the independent UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) review team reported eighteen months ago that New Zealand did not have plans to meet two-thirds of our promised climate emissions cuts. ‘Climate change is the most important global health issue of the 21st century, already causing significant deaths and misery. Watering down the already inadequate Emissions Trading Scheme as announced yesterday only makes this situation worse.’
‘The reality is that we don’t have an effective Emissions Trading Scheme, because prices are capped at what amounts to $12.50 per tonne, about half of the Australian carbon tax’ says Dr Jones. He explains: ‘Taxpayers will bear most of the costs of highly polluting companies who are escalating emissions and mocking the efforts of many New Zealanders to live more sustainably’.
The New Zealand Climate and Health Council calls on the Government to move beyond limiting the climate crisis to a ‘greenie’ issue and face up to the broader implications for New Zealand. It explains that ignoring the threat of climate change will impose enormous social, economic and health costs on current and future generations of New Zealanders. Dr Jones says a large body of research shows that smarter, sustainable lifestyles can lead to significant improvements in health. ‘By subsidising polluters, we forego these opportunities to improve health and wellbeing, while further entrenching a 20th century, fossil fuel-based economy. The changes announced yesterday to our so-called Emissions Trading Scheme are yet another disappointing step backwards for New Zealand’ ends Dr Jones.
Leading medical bodies throughout the world are saying that politicians must heed health effects of climate change, doctors must speak out, and doctors demand their politicians be decisive, listen to the clear facts and act now. OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council is part of this international movement. It has more than a 150 senior doctors and other health professionals concerned about climate change impacts on health and health services.
The incorporated society has published a number of articles about climate change and health in peer-reviewed medical journals. Their message is that:
● Climate change is a real and urgent threat to the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders.
♦ rapidly halving our own emissions by 2020;
♦ paying our fair share of international investment in a global future.
● New Zealand can, and must, respond to climate change in ways that improve population health, accord with Te Tiriti o Waitangi, create a more equitable, ljust and resilient society, and promote a healthier economy within ecological resource limits.