Divesting from fossil fuels – is this good for public health?

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014 | Kate Sloane | No Comments

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Professor Alistair Woodward, Associate Professor Nick Wilson

Divest now 1What does Victoria University have in common with Stanford, the Australian National University and the British Medical Association? They have all decided in the last few months to sell off their interests in fossil fuel companies. In this blog post we briefly explore the arguments around such disinvestment from a public health perspective.

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Transport, carbon emission reduction and health- the possibility of a virtuous circle?

Monday, June 9th, 2014 | Kate Sloane | 2 Comments

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Dr Caroline Shaw and Associate Professor Simon Hales

Editor note: In this Blog, Caroline Shaw and Simon Hales reflect on the weak evidence on health co-benefits for some ‘big’ environmental policies, but also highlight that there are many ‘no-brainer’ actions that can be taken now with likely health and environmental co-benefit. They have recently published a systematic review “Health Co-Benefits of Climate Change Mitigation Policies in the Transport Sector”.

The transport sector globally generates about 23% of carbon emissions (about 16% of gross emissions in New Zealand). This is largely dominated by the use of light vehicles (see the pie chart below- note: energy use is a good proxy for carbon emissions in the transport sector). Transport emissions continue to grow rapidly, particularly in emerging economies, and by one account transport could represent half of all global emissions by 2050. Continue reading

Climate change and cherry blossom

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014 | Kate Sloane | No Comments

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Professor Alistair Woodward, epidemiologist and climate change expert. Alistair was Convening Lead Author of Chapter 11 (Human Health) in the 5th IPCC Assessment Report. A commentary on the full chapter is available at the Lancet.  Listen to Alistair on Radio NZ’s Nine to Noon programme just after 9am on Friday 4 Apirl, discussing this report and his reflections.

AR5cover1_275_355_70Last Saturday in Japan the lights went off at 8.30 pm. This was to mark Earth Hour, the mass event intended to show support for global environmental issues. Fortuitous, some suggested, that it coincided with the final day of the IPCC meeting in Yokohama. The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) had gathered to approve the second of the 5th assessment reports, which was written by Working Group 2 and deals with climate change impacts, vulnerability and adaptation.

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Is NZ a Laggard in Responding to Climate Change?: Results of a Global Index

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013 | Kate Sloane | 1 Comment

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Associate Professor Nick Wilson and Dr Nisha Nair

The 2014 edition of the “Climate Change Performance Index” has just been released by Climate Action Network Europe and Germanwatch. Basically, the index uses set criteria to assess and rank the climate change response of 58 countries (collectively responsible for more than 90 percent of global energy-related CO2 emissions). Its sources include data from the International Energy Agency and the UN Environment Programme, as well as help from 250+ energy and climate experts internationally. By this measure, NZ ranks in the bottom half of the OECD for responding to the climate change problem. This blog post looks at some of the details and considers what NZ could be aiming for if it is to be a responsible “international citizen” in terms of the global environment and global health.

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Warmest New Zealand winter ever recorded – The Government should do more on climate change

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013 | Nick Wilson | No Comments

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Assoc Prof Nick Wilson.

It’s official, this was the warmest winter ever recorded for New Zealand according to NIWA scientists. They also list 29 cities, towns and other sites around the country which had the highest average winter temperatures ever documented – some with records going back to the 1860s (full report). This is good news in lots of ways. Warmer winters mean more comfort, more time outdoors, lower electricity bills, less air pollution from domestic fires, and perhaps even fewer excess winter deaths (a documented problem in this country, especially for low-income New Zealanders).

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