The New Zealand parliament has passed on Dec 5th a motion declaring a climate emergency in recognition of the ongoing global crisis. It joined thirty-two other nations that have formally acknowledged the crisis and declared a climate emergency. The motion approved Wednesday was supported by the Labour Party, the Greens and te Pāti Māori while the National Party and ACT opposed it.
Prime Minister Jacinda Arden moved the motion in light of the fact that climate change counts as one of the biggest challenges in our time and realizing that volatile weather will affect the wellbeing of the people of New Zealand. The motion also notes the loss of biological diversity due to climate change.
The motion read:
“Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern to move, That this House – declare a climate emergency, following the finding of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that, to avoid a more than 1.5°C rise in global warming, global emissions would need to fall by around 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching net zero by around 2050; – recognize the advocacy of New Zealanders in calling for action to protect the environment and reduce the impact of human activity on the climate; – join the over 1,800 jurisdictions in 32 countries to declare a climate emergency and commit to reducing emissions to avoid a more than 1.5°C rise in global warming; – recognize the devastating impact that volatile and extreme weather will have on New Zealand and the wellbeing of New Zealanders, on our primary industries, water availability, and public health, through flooding, sea-level rise, and wildfire damage; – note that climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time, that the Government has made significant progress on meeting that challenge through the Paris Agreement and the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act 2019, and that New Zealand has committed to taking urgent action on greenhouse gas mitigation and climate change adaptation; – acknowledge the core tenets of New Zealand’s response by establishing emissions budgets that set us on a path to net zero by 2050, setting a price on emissions through the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme, transitioning to a low-carbon economy and planning for climate adaption; – implement the policies required to meet the targets in the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act 2019, and to increase support for striving towards 100 percent renewable electricity generation, low carbon energy, and transport systems; – seize the economic opportunities that a clean, green reputation provides; – create green jobs in the low-carbon economy while managing risks for workers and communities currently reliant on carbon-intensive sectors; – recognise the alarming trend in species decline and global biodiversity crisis, including the decline in Aotearoa’s indigenous biodiversity, and acknowledge New Zealand’s strategic framework for the protection and restoration of biodiversity Te Mana o te Taiao; – note that the Government will take further steps towards reducing and eliminating waste; and – show leadership and demonstrate what is possible to other sectors of the New Zealand economy by reducing the Government’s own emissions and becoming a carbon-neutral Government by 2025. “
Arden committed the government to lead by example by reducing its waste and emissions in pursuit of a carbon neutral government by 2025. The government plans to achieve this by phasing out large coal boilers and their petrol vehicle fleet adopt electric cars. The public sector was also included in the initiative to help achieve net zero by 2050. They will be required to meet a set standard of energy efficiency of the buildings they occupy. The State Sector Decarbonization Fund, through a $200 billion program, will be a source of funding for the initiative.
This initiative picks up from where the previous Labour government left off in 2007. It had initiated a move towards carbon neutrality, to be achieved within five years. It set up a three-step initiative that involved measuring and reporting on greenhouse gas emissions, reducing the emissions, and offsetting remaining emissions. The program was cut by the subsequent National Party government.
See the motion