Thousands to march for safer climate

Climate change (File)
Climate change (File)

Thousands of health professionals are expected to march across the country for a safer climate and better health outcomes this weekend.

They will join other New Zealanders across the country as part of the global People's Climate March, ahead of the United Nations Climate Summit beginning in Paris on Monday.

New Zealand Nurses Organisation president Grant Brookes says climate change is the greatest threat to human health this century, with increased risk from war, famine and infectious disease.

Mr Brookes says things that protect us from climate change are also sensible measures, and he urges Climate Change Minister Tim Groser to prioritise action supporting better quality life.

"Safe places to walk and cycle, healthy local food, more leisure time and well-built, warm houses are good for both people and the planet."

Dr Rhys Jones, co-convenor of OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council, says New Zealand needs to reduce the burden on the country's health system and promote a liveable climate.

"Here in New Zealand there are so many things we can do to improve health that will also protect our climate. These include rapidly phasing out coal, switching from car trips to more cycling, walking and public transport, and creating energy-efficient homes," says Dr Jones.

"As a developed country and a high emitter, New Zealand needs to be a team-player at the upcoming climate talks in Paris."

Green Party Co-leader James Shaw, MP Kennedy Graham and co-leader Metiria Turei will also be joining in on the march.

Mr Shaw will be representing New Zealanders at Paris as part of the official Government delegation, and Dr Graham and Green MP Julie Anne Genter will be attending as observers.

"Paris is the best chance we've got right now to secure a good climate deal," says Mr Shaw.

"If a strong agreement is reached in Paris, it will genuinely change our children's and grandchildren's futures for the better. This weekend we'll be making that call loud and clear in solidarity with hundreds of thousands of voices around the world."

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