Kiwi nurses warn climate change will lead to increased pests, disease

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) has warned that failure to tackle climate change will lead to increased pests and disease.

The union's climate change spokesperson, Rachel Dobric, told RNZ that increased global warming would increase the risk of exotic diseases being spread by animals like rats and mosquitoes, and could lead to outbreaks of diseases like malaria.

Dobric say fighting climate change will also have benefits for public health.

"Leading medical journal The Lancet has made it clear that tackling climate change could be the biggest global health opportunity of the 21st century," she said in a statement on Friday.

"The changes to infrastructure needed to avert climate catastrophe and keep warming below 1.5 degrees will mean reduction in air pollution, healthier diets, and more active lifestyles.

"All these changes will directly improve the health outcomes for the people our nurses care for every day."

Dobric says New Zealand needs to take "urgent and ambitious action" now to save the future.

"We fully support School Strike 4 Climate’s call for the Government to declare a climate emergency, and to take more ambitious action to avoid climate chaos," she said in the statement.