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'No nuclear-free moment - but healthy emissions reduction plan still possible'

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Was NZ-Aotearoa’s appearance at the world’s climate conference COP26 our nuclear-free moment? "Definitely not," said OraTaiao Co-convenor Dr Dermot Coffey, "but the good news is that the government can vastly improve on its COP26 failings by putting in place an emissions reduction plan that achieves a healthier, more resilient and more equitable Aotearoa."

This month the government is consulting on its emissions reduction plan which will lay out climate action for the next 15 years and OraTaiao has prepared a submission guide.

"Our government needs to understand we can make huge health gains from well designed cuts to climate pollution. If emissions cuts are done in the right way across sectors such as transport, buildings and food systems we would see health gains giving relief to our already stretched health services, helping to reduce rates of heart disease, cancer, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, musculoskeletal disease, respiratory disease, motor vehicle injuries, and mental illness," said Dr Coffey.

"There are similar exciting gains from investing within Aotearoa and working in Tiriti partnership as we move nearer to net zero emissions resilience this decade. Yet right now, our government's lack of ambition means we run the risk of being rapidly outpaced by the rest of the world."

Dr Coffey said much of Aotearoa’s appearance at COP26 was same-old, including runner-up Fossil of the Day yet again and signing up to the Global Methane Pledge of 30 per cent cuts by 2030 while continuing with our 10 per cent methane target.

"We really do expect to see a step up now with this emissions reduction plan. At COP26, our country showed up with a commitment which utterly failed to take responsibility for our past climate pollution. As a relatively wealthy country, we are expected to do much more at home than we have agreed to and after the release of the World Health Organisation’s Special COP26 report and the health sector’s recent letter sent to the Prime Minister, the health sector had hoped for better.

"Aotearoa can still put a plan in place that results in real climate pollution cuts and invests in a fairer healthier future here at home" says Dr Coffey. Public submissions close on the government’s draft Emissions Reduction Plan on 24 November, which will become Aotearoa’s climate protection plan next May.

"Despite our COP26 disaster" concludes Dr Coffey, "this plan is Aotearoa’s next best chance to invest in our country, invest in health and secure net zero resilience much sooner."

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