Health professionals have offered a mixed response to the Zero Carbon Bill, which was introduced into Parliament today. They applaud its purpose to prevent global warming of more than 1.5 degrees, but say aspects of the bill lack the necessary urgency and accountability.
“The Bill’s targets as they stand today would be too little, too late,” said Dr Rhys Jones, Co-convenor of OraTaiao: NZ Climate and Health Council. “The Zero Carbon Bill is too weak on agricultural emissions which comprise almost half of New Zealand’s total greenhouse gas emissions. We need to see a move away from beef and dairy for both the sake of human and planetary health.”
The Zero Carbon Bill sets a target of 10 per cent reduction in biological methane emissions by 2030, and aims for a provisional reduction ranging from 24 per cent to 47 per cent by 2050.
“Our food production systems are threatening local ecosystems and contributing to climate change, while unhealthy diets are a significant contributor to major health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and cancers. But on the other hand, a rapid transition to a healthy plant-based food system could go a long way to addressing major health issues including obesity, heart disease and protecting our drinking water,” said Dr Jones.
Dr. Jones was speaking from the 2ndSustainable Healthcare Forum in Wellington today where leaders from a range of sectors gathered to share ideas about reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the health sector. Forum participants have presented an open letter asking the Government to set greenhouse gas emission targets for District Health Boards.
“Health professionals are extremely concerned about the impacts of climate change on the health of people and communities. At the same time, we are excited about the health opportunities that well-designed climate action can bring,” said Dr Jones.
“A strong Zero Carbon Bill that emphasises fairness and upholds Te Tiriti o Waitangi is critical for a healthy future for New Zealanders.”