Environment & Climate Change

We’ve put the environment at the centre of our thinking; it’s an asset that underpins our wellbeing, identity, lifestyle and livelihoods. As we continue our COVID recovery, we’re investing in nature to support thousands of people into jobs now, and protect our environment for generations to come.

Labour's 2020 campaign policies

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.

Labour’s achievements to date

During the COVID crisis

Right across New Zealand, we’re redeploying hundreds of workers affected by COVID-19 into jobs in biosecurity and conservation projects. We’ve worked quickly to identify opportunities to keep people in work and help communities recover, while giving nature a helping hand.

Before the COVID crisis

We’ve delivered on our commitment to clean up waterways. We’ve introduced a new National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and required that rivers and lakes be clean enough for people to swim without getting sick, while achieving aquatic ecosystem health. We’re setting stricter controls on pollution, putting controls on high-risk farm practices, and requiring mandatory and enforceable farm environment plans. We’ve invested heavily in large-scale planting and our Sustainable Land Use Package has helped the primary sector to protect at-risk waterways and wetlands.

We’re taking action on climate change because it’s the nuclear-free issue of our time. We’ve:

  • Passed the Zero Carbon Act with a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050
  • Stopped issuing new permits for offshore oil and gas exploration
  • Restored the Emissions Trading Scheme to reward emissions reductions
  • Started planting one billion trees by 2028 to capture carbon and clean waterways, with 150 million already in the ground

We’re tackling waste head-on. Already, we’ve banned single-use plastic bags and we’re committed to phasing out even more single-use plastic. We’re addressing food waste by redirecting food to those in need. We’ve created jobs through the Waste Minimisation Fund.

We’re turning around New Zealand’s conservation crisis. We provided the largest funding boost for the Department of Conservation since 2002, delivering on our promise to significantly invest in conservation. We’ve introduced an International Visitor Levy, to support sustainable tourism and conservation projects. We’re ramping up pest control to protect our native wildlife and help our farmers.