Youth organisation Generation Zero is today launching its blueprint for a powerful new climate change law to get New Zealand to zero carbon by 2050 or sooner, and is calling for cross-party support.
“Climate change is bigger than politics,” says Lisa McLaren, national convenor for the Zero Carbon Act campaign.
“We need political parties to work together on this and look beyond election cycles.”
The proposed Zero Carbon Act will work by requiring future governments to set five year ‘carbon budgets’ on track to the zero carbon target, and then make plans to meet these. It will set up an independent Climate Commission whose role is to provide expert advice on targets and policies and to monitor the Government’s progress.
The idea is based on the UK’s successful 2008 Climate Change Act, which has helped the UK cut its carbon pollution by 28% at the same as reducing energy bills.
The Act will also require a National Climate Risk Assessment updated every five years, a climate change adaptation programme, and transparent planning and reporting on New Zealand’s contributions to climate action in other countries.
“We are a decade behind leading countries like the UK. The Zero Carbon Act is the solution we need to get our country on the right track,” says Miss McLaren.
“In the last few months our country has been battered by storms, droughts and wildfires. Climate change is already affecting our own backyard.”
“I am worried because things will keep getting worse for my generation unless we act. It is going to be our homes that are damaged, and our friends and family trying to clean up the mess. The burden of inaction will be too much.”
Forest & Bird, WWF-New Zealand and Oxfam New Zealand are urging people to support the Zero Carbon Act.
Forest & Bird climate advocate Adelia Hallett says; “Right now, we’ve got floods affecting not only people, but also our precious wildlife, and at the rate we’re going, this is going to be the new normal.”
“Cutting emissions is one of the most effective things we can do to reduce the impact of climate change, but we need to work together to do it.”
WWF-New Zealand campaigner David Tong says; “Setting a long-term goal and establishing a climate commission could be the key to unlocking climate action beyond short-term electoral cycles. It brings transparency to government’s climate change commitments.”
“It would give businesses, councils and ordinary Kiwis a predictable pathway for our national shift to a clean energy future. Businesses and investors especially need that information to make sensible, future-proof budgeting decisions.”
Oxfam New Zealand advocacy and campaigns director Paula Feehan says; “Carbon pollution is threatening the air that you, me and our children breathe, the seas we swim and fish in, and even the land which gives us our food. And our neighbours in the Pacific, who have caused some of the very least pollution, are those who are facing the worst effects right now.”
“All the political parties who care about New Zealanders, who care about our way of life, who care about our Pacific neighbours, should be backing this important proposed piece of legislation right now.”
Generation Zero spent over six months developing its detailed blueprint for the Zero Carbon Act and consulted with dozens of experts and organisations.
“Our proposal isn’t just a ‘carbon copy’ of the UK Act. We’ve thought long and hard about how to make this work for New Zealand,” says Miss McLaren.
A key difference from the UK model is the introduction of a ‘two baskets approach’ for the different greenhouse gases. Short-lived gases (such as methane) do not need to go to zero and will have a separate target under the Act.
“The Zero Carbon Act needs cross-party support for it to work. We will be pushing for all political parties to back the Act and we want New Zealanders from all walks of life to join us,” says Miss McLaren.
Alongside the blueprint, Generation Zero has launched a petition to the next Parliament to work together to develop and pass the Zero Carbon Act. The group intends to table this in Parliament after the September election.
The Zero Carbon Act blueprint and petition are online at www.zerocarbonact.nz