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New Zealand Ophthalmologists' Opinions and Behaviours on Climate, Carbon and Sustainability

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Importance: Ophthalmology faces imperatives to improve sustainability, but there is uncertainty about how to respond.

Background: We sought New Zealand ophthalmologists' opinions on climate change, sustainability and the role of ophthalmologists in responding to these issues, as well as information on the extent that ophthalmology practices are acting on sustainability.

Design: Anonymous online survey of New Zealand fellows and trainees (178) of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) was conducted.

Participants: Forty-seven respondents (response rate 26%) were included in the study.

Respondents were asked their level of agreement with statements on climate, health and sustainability and invited to comment. Current sustainability activities were collected from clinical leaders and directors of hospital departments and private practices.

Main outcome measure: Distribution of agreement scores was the main outcome measure.

Results: Agreement with mainstream positions on climate change was as expected. A minority of up to 19% expressed the opinion that climate change was not due to human activity, and did not require mitigation. Younger ophthalmologists tended to have greater agreement with the need for broad-based political action on climate mitigation than those aged over 50 years. Most practices had room to improve on reducing waste, travel and carbon footprints.

Conclusions and relevance:
The majority of New Zealand ophthalmologists are concerned about anthropogenic climate change. Currently, sustainability is not a performance indicator for New Zealand district health boards, so there is limited incentive to drive improvements. These data form a reference point to compare future opinions and ophthalmology carbon footprinting.

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