PM declares climate emergency, pledges carbon neutral by 2025

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has committed the Government and the public sector to going carbon-neutral by 2025, as she declared a climate emergency.

Ardern has moved a motion in Parliament this afternoon which would see New Zealand join 32 other nations in formally acknowledging the global crisis.

The motion was passed shortly before 4pm, with Labour, the Greens and te Pāti Māori all voting in support, and National and ACT opposed.

It includes a promise to set an example by reducing waste and emissions.

"[Parliament will] 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."

Ardern also launched an initiative requiring the public sector to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025.

"Government agencies will have to measure and reduce their emissions and offset what they can't in order to achieve carbon neutrality.

"The public sector needs to be and will be an exemplar that sets the standard we all need to achieve by 2050."

Ardern told the House the declaration was based on science and "we must act with urgency."

It was a declaration grounded in a deep sense of responsibility - a responsibility that people in the Pacific know all too well.

It was also an "acknowledgement of the next generation," she said.

"It is up to us to make sure we demonstrate a plan for action, and a reason for hope."

The Prime Minister said it was not in Kiwis' DNA to turn their back on a problem. "We will only make progress if see collective action is required."

The programme also includes an immediate focus on phasing out the largest and most active coal boilers, a requirement for government agencies to purchase electric vehicles and reduce the size of their car fleet, and for a green standard for public sector buildings.

It is backed by the $200 million State Sector Decarbonisation Fund.

"This policy, alongside today's declaration of a climate emergency, serves as a message to the public sector to get our own house in order. It's also a call to action for the private sector and it's great to see so many examples of businesses taking steps to reduce their emissions," Ardern said.

Climate Minister James Shaw said this builds on the progress the Government has made over the last three years.

"In our first term, we put in place one of the world's most ambitious frameworks for reducing emissions, including becoming one of the only countries in the world to put in place a legally binding requirement to stay within the threshold of 1.5 degrees of global warming above pre-industrial levels.

"Now we intend to lead by example by measuring and reporting emissions across government, upgrading to cleaner sources of energy, cutting emissions from transport, and improving the efficiency of our buildings."

The climate emergency declaration notes the "devastating impact" that volatile weather will have on New Zealand, as well as the "alarming trend in species decline".

"Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time," it said.

National and ACT have dismissed the move as a marketing stunt - a criticism likely to prompt some concrete action alongside the symbolic gesture.

National's Stuart Smith told the House this afternoon that declaring a climate emergency was "nothing but virtue signalling" and Ardern's motion won't help to bring down emissions.

Efforts to declare a climate emergency in the last term of government were stymied with NZ First, National and ACT standing in opposition.

National leader Judith Collins said earlier today that it gives the public a false impression that there are substantial plans to tackle climate change.




View all

Waiting eagerly now to see electric firetrucks, Defence Force vehicles, police vans, prison vans, 4x4 DOC trucks, etc

We sit at number 67 on the list of world CO2 emitters. Ahead of us the likes of Finland, Bulgaria, Burma, Turkmenistan, plus 62 other bigger polluters.

But let's call it an emergency and become carbon neutral by 2025! The impact we will have on global emissions will be practically zero! ... That's what happens when you only create 0.1% of the world's pollutants to begin with.

Much more likely our Prime Minister Ardern is simply looking for her 'David Lange "I can smell the uranium on your breath" world media spotlight moment'

Congratulations to the Government on SAYING they are going to do something on this. Let's hope they actually action this beyond photo opportunities and the blowing of more hot air into an already overheated atmosphere.

National's refusal to take action on anything environmental demonstrates to me (a traditional right of centre supporter who voted against them in the last election) how out of touch they have become.

More virtue posturing. Next we will have lots of working groups and reports with daft ideas likely to stuff the economy, just like the freshwater fiasco.

The entire climate story is a convenient scapegoat if you are feeling a bit guilty and pathetic. You get to project your failings onto something else, whew.

So what? 'Science' and 'collective' will put off the fundamentalist self serving.

Tell it to China..

There you have it. The religion of Climate Alarmism where the seasons and the years role by without any significant change in the climate that you can identify, but call for an emergency solution anyway to show the world how Progressive you are irrespective of the expense upon the nation. But you're sucking off the taxpayer teat, so it's ok.

Three years ago she pledged to get child poverty and the housing issue sorted.
Now she pledges that government will be carbon neutral in 5 years and great efforts will be made to measure the progress and payments made to offset the short fall.
If her pledge was to make government, resource efficient by reducing waste based on economic business cases, I would be thinking she is on the right track.
All I see from this is more bureaucracy and wasted resources that should be going to our children and housing our people.

It never fails to amuse me how corporations can pay money then magically they are "carbon free".

View all

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter