College President, Dr Samantha Murton signed OraTaiao’s Health Professionals Joint Call for Action on Climate Change and Health on Monday 25 November 2019, marking a formal commitment to confronting the health effects of climate change. 

“The College is proud of this new partnership and looks forward to identifying ways it can implement its commitment in practice,” says Dr Murton. 



Dr Dermott Coffey, Dr Rebecca Randerson, Dr Alexandra Macmillan and Dr Samantha Murton.

“Our partnership with OraTaiao is a catalyst for being part of climate change conversations amongst our membership and other health organisations. The College office will also look at ways to reduce its impact on the climate, starting with a commitment to monitoring and annually publishing its carbon emission levels,” she says. 

Dr Alexandra Macmillan, co-convenor of OraTaiao, welcomes the College’s decision.

“As our world continues to warm we need commitment and concerted action from all sectors of society to ensure a just transition to a low-carbon world, so we are deeply heartened the College is joining 17 other health professional groups in signing this joint Call for Action on Climate Change and Health,” says Dr Macmillan.

“This is an important first step by the College and demonstrates the concern within primary care about the health and social risks of unmitigated climate change,” she says.

Dr Murton says she is looking forward to working with OraTaiao and other health bodies to raise awareness about the health effects of climate change. 

“We are acutely aware that that the climate has a considerable influence on the building blocks of health. For example, access to clean water influences things like hygiene and food production, which then has an impact on people’s nutrition. Reduced use of fossil fuel and coal, can help improve air quality, resulting in health benefits,” says Dr Murton.

“There are also secondary health benefits associated with reducing your carbon emissions by walking or cycling to work. 

“Our partnership with OraTaiao is a catalyst for being part of climate change conversations amongst our membership and other health organisations. The College office will also look at ways to reduce its impact on the climate, starting with a commitment to monitoring and annually publishing its carbon emission levels,” Dr Murton says.  “As health professionals, GPs have a role to play in ensuring adequate and equitable care is available for our population – which is why the Board felt it was appropriate for the College to join this Call to Action,” she says.

Dr Murton says the College is working on several activities as part of its commitment to the Call to Action:

  • Hosting a sustainability theme at its 2020 conference, the WONCA Asia-Pacific Regional Conference, including confirming keynotes and speakers with an expertise in climate change
  • Partnering with the Sustainable Business Network’s Million Metres project, by hosting a tree planting session at WONCA
  • Partnering with Ekos, to provide easy carbon offsetting options for those traveling to attend WONCA
  • Incorporating sustainability into the College’s new Quality framework for practices
  • Interviewing GPs with an expertise in climate change and sharing these insights with College staff and members.
For more information about OraTaiao, please visit their website.