Govt can improve human health by tackling climate change

The National Government should adopt the recommendations of the Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change, given that the authors say that climate change threatens to unravel the last 50 years of health gains, the Green Party said today.

“The National Government needs to stop contributing to the climate change problem and start being part of the solution, in light of the fact that health experts are calling climate change a medical emergency,” said Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague.

Mr Hague was responding to publication today of the 2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change report entitled “Health and climate change: policy responses to protect public health”. The Commission Co-chair Hugh Montgomery, Director of the University College London Institute for Human Health and Performance said, “Climate change is a medical emergency.”

“The Lancet Commission warns that climate change threatens to unravel the last 50 years of health gains, and yet the National Government continues to allow New Zealand’s greenhouse emissions to grow.

“The Commission says that the effects of climate change are being felt today, a finding that seems particularly timely given the recent floods in Whanganui, Wellington and Dunedin,” said Mr Hague.

“The good news is that the report says that well-designed action to combat climate change provides New Zealand and the rest of the world with exciting opportunities to reduce illness, save lives and create a fairer society.

“The Green Party has long understood the health co-benefits from climate friendly policies in transport, housing, energy and food production.

“For example, the Green Party would reallocate money earmarked for new motorways, and instead spend it on better public transport, walking and cycling infrastructure. This would improve air quality and have direct health benefits for those who choose to use active transport.

“The report highlights that the barrier to a stable climate and better health outcomes is political inaction.

“We have the solutions for climate change and better health outcomes, the Government just needs to implement them,” said Mr Hague.