New Zealand declares climate emergency

Sydney, Australia, Dec 2 (EFE).- New Zealand declared a climate emergency on Wednesday and committed to a carbon-neutral government by 2025.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern moved a motion in parliament, which was passed with the support of her ruling Labour party, as well as the Greens and the Maori Party. It was opposed by the National and ACT parties.

“Be on the right side of history, be part of the solution we must collectively deliver for the next generation,” Ardern urged lawmakers.

Ardern advocated for the future of the youth, saying the move was “an acknowledgment of the next generation, an acknowledgment of the burden that they will carry if we do not get this right and if we do not take action now.”

“It is up to us to make sure that we demonstrate (…) there is a plan for action and there is a reason for hope.”

Also highlighted was the fate of fellow South Pacific nations, many of which are on the frontline of rising sea levels, with the prime minister calling the climate crisis “their greatest threat.”

Anything less than putting a limit on temperature rises of 1.5 degrees Celsius into legislation “means consigning our region to a devastating reality that if we are responsible members of the Pacific that we cannot and will not accept,” Ardern said.

It was also announced that New Zealand’s public sector would be carbon-neutral by 2025, with all government agencies required to purchase electric vehicles and reduce the size of their car fleets, as well as the phasing out of coal boilers and introducing green building requirements.

“Government agencies will have to measure and reduce their emissions and offset what they can’t in order to achieve carbon neutrality. It’s an important step forward in our plan for New Zealand to be carbon neutral by 2050,” Ardern said in a separate statement.

Also highlighted was the intention for climate change to be integrated into the COVID-19 pandemic recovery, so that the economy is built back “in a sustainable way with a focus on carbon neutrality.”

After the House debate, Green Party co-leader and climate change minister James Shaw wrote on Twitter that standing up in parliament to “declare a climate emergency was the result of many years of hard work by thousands of people. To everyone of you, thank you for all you have done. The declaration belongs to you. We now owe it you to back it up with action.”

Maori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said that “for tangata whenua (indigenous people), this motion is well overdue.”

Opposition parties appeared less enthusiastic.

ACT party leader David Seymour said the declaration was “a triumph for post-rational politics.”

“If the government has a sound climate change policy, it doesn’t need to declare an emergency. If it has to declare an emergency, maybe its policy isn’t working,” he said.

National MP Nicola Willis said in the House that “this declaration will have no measurable impact on global climate change.”

“The motion before us employs all the implied drama of the word ’emergency,’ but it does so with zero practical effect.”

New Zealand now joins 32 other nations in formally recognizing the global climate crisis. EFE


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