Environment & Climate Change

We’re working hard to protect and restore New Zealand’s precious environment, as we lay the foundations for lasting action on climate.

Here are just a few measures we’re taking to keep Aotearoa clean and green:

Reducing our carbon footprint

We’ve made tackling climate change a priority. In 2020, we declared a climate emergency, committing to urgent action to reduce emissions. In 2019, we passed the Zero Carbon Act – aiming to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 – and reformed the Emissions Trading Scheme to more effectively reduce climate-polluting emissions. We’ve started planting a billion trees, with more than 349 million already in the ground. We’re also working to achieve a carbon-neutral public sector by 2025, through steps like upgrading schools and hospitals to run on clean energy.

Keeping New Zealand moving, sustainably

We’re working to reduce the negative impact of our transport sector. We’re upgrading our rail infrastructure and are consulting on a range of policies to eliminate emissions in the sector. We’ve introduced a Clean Car Standard to increase the supply of cleaner cars in New Zealand, and our Clean Car Discount is making it cheaper for Kiwi families to buy electric and low-emission cars. We’re also working towards our target of fully decarbonising the public bus fleet by 2035 and funding more EVs in the public sector. This is on top of funding more public EV chargers around the country and making a record investment in public transport and walking and cycling improvements.

Backing businesses to make the switch

Kiwi businesses have an important role to play as we transition to a low-carbon economy. That’s why we’re supporting businesses to make the switch to clean energy through our Government Investment in Decarbonising Industry Fund, which has already reduced lifetime emissions by 7.4 million tonnes. We’re also accelerating the use of low-carbon technology, renewable energy, and low-emissions vehicles by quadrupling funding for Green Investment Finance.

Creating jobs and protecting our environment 

Our Jobs for Nature programme is helping to drive our economic recovery, revitalise our regions, and restore our environment. The package is set to create thousands of jobs in our regions, while improving freshwater, improving biosecurity and enhancing biodiversity on public and private land.

Cracking down on waste

We’ve banned single-use plastic bags and committed to phasing out more single-use plastics. We’re also addressing food waste by backing initiatives that redirect food to people in need. Now, we’re working on improving recycling programmes and waste infrastructure, and investing in the research and development of sustainable alternatives to plastic to reduce the amount of single-use plastic ending up in our landfills. Not only is this better for our environment, it’s also an economic opportunity – research has shown that for every five jobs created in landfilling, 15 to 20 jobs could be created in resource recovery or recycling

Looking out for our water and wildlife

We’re continuing to improve the health of New Zealand’s freshwater and coastal areas. Clean water is crucial to our environment, our economy and our reputation. We believe Kiwis should be able to swim in our rivers and lakes without getting sick. That’s why we’re rolling out our plan to stop further degradation, make immediate improvements and reverse past damage to our freshwater resources, waterways and ecosystems to a healthy state within a generation.

We’re also making sure future generations can enjoy our native species and scenery by taking action to protect endangered Māui and Hector’s dolphins, enhance our biodiversity, combat kauri dieback disease, expand predator control to make Aotearoa predator free by 2050.

View more climate achievements

View more environment achievements

We will:

  • Prevent unnecessary waste by phasing out single use and hard to recycle plastics and by creating a $50m Plastics Innovation Fund to develop alternatives
  • Reduce waste by investing in waste infrastructure and projects, and by establishing mandatory product stewardship schemes
  • Improve domestic recycling through making it harder to export plastic waste and by standardising kerbside collection of recycling and food waste
  • Phase out coal-fired boilers and decarbonise public transport buses
  • Continue working with farmers and boost funding across agricultural climate change research
  • Phase out fossil fuels in process heat by preventing installation of new low and medium temperature coal-fired boilers
  • Decarbonise the public transport bus fleet by 2035
  • Support agricultural climate change research programmes

Find more detail about our waste and recycling policies here, and more detail about our climate change policy here.

If re-elected, Labour will also put in stronger protections for our native kauri. We will roll out a National Pest Management Plan, the strongest form of protection under the Biosecurity Act, to combat kauri dieback, and invest an additional $32 million over five years. Read more about our plan to combat kauri dieback here.

Labour’s plan

Labour is already rolling out our plan to invest in nature to support thousands of people into jobs, and protect our precious environment for generations to come. That’s why we are:

  • Creating almost 11,000 new jobs in regional New Zealand to restore our environment, including the Jobs for Nature fund, work to ramp up predator control to protect our native wildlife and investment in waterways and wetlands, while supporting the COVID-19 economic recovery in our regions
  • Fast-tracking RMA consenting to get shovel-ready projects moving, getting sustainable projects, like cycleways, started sooner, people into work faster, and accelerating our economic recovery
  • Delivering the strongest ever protections to clean up our waterways to ensure Kiwis can safely swim in their local rivers and lakes, create jobs and help New Zealand’s agriculture export and tourism offerings.

In addition to that plan, Labour will continue to clean up our waterways, including improving the water quality at swimming spots and working to protect both urban and rural streams, and step up the pace of getting New Zealanders into work through our Jobs for Nature fund.

Labour will repeal and replace the Resource Management Act, because it takes too long, costs too much and hasn’t properly protected our environment.

Labour will keep working with farmers on our world-first partnership to reduce primary sector climate emissions at the farm level, including improving tools for estimating and benchmarking emissions on farms, increasing farm advisory capacity and capability, and providing recognition for on-farm mitigation.