New Zealand declares climate emergency

New Zealand has declared a climate emergency, committing to urgent action on reducing emissions.

This decision comes following the finding of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that, to avoid a rise in global warming of more than 1.5°C, global emissions need to fall by around 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030 (reaching net zero by around 2050).

The decision also comes after the continued advocacy of New Zealanders who have been calling for action to protect the environment and reduce the impact of human activity on the climate.

By declaring a climate emergency, we join the over 1,800 jurisdictions in 32 countries to do the same, and to commit to reducing emissions to avoid a more than 1.5°C rise in global warming. We recognise that climate change is one of the greatest threats we face, and that action is needed now to protect New Zealanders, our environment, our primary industries, our public health, and our Pacific neighbours.

Declaring an emergency is just one of many steps this Government is taking to tackle climate change. New Zealand has already committed to the Paris Agreement, and is taking urgent action on greenhouse gas mitigation and climate change adaptation.

Over the past three years, we’ve:

  • Passed the landmark Zero Carbon Act, with a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050
  • Delivered the strongest ever protections to clean up our rivers and lakes
  • Banned single-use plastic bags and committed to phasing out more single-use plastics
  • Stopped issuing new offshore oil and gas exploration permits
  • Started upgrading schools and hospitals to ensure they run on clean energy
  • Began creating almost 11,000 new green jobs in our regions to restore and protect our environment by upgrading walking tracks, restoring wetlands, eradicating pests and more
  • Established the $100 million New Zealand Green Investment Finance Ltd – a commercially focussed investment company which will work with business to reduce emissions.

Our Government has also committed to decarbonise the public sector by 2025. Through the Carbon Neutral Government Programme, we will make a number of government organisations carbon neutral by 2025. The first phase will include phasing out coal boilers and replacing them with low-emissions alternatives. We will prioritise the largest and most active coal boilers by 2025.

We will also require some Government agencies to purchase electric vehicles for their fleets, and decrease the number of vehicles in the Government fleet. And we’ll institute an energy efficiency building rating standard to large Government offices over five years from 2021, and require that new Government leases and builds meet minimum energy standards.

Decarbonising the public sector is just one way we’re actively working to tackle climate change, protect our environment, and transition New Zealand to clean, sustainable energy.

Going forward, we are:

  • Bringing forward the goal of 100% renewable electricity generation by five years to 2030
  • Significantly expanding the Just Transitions unit with an additional $5 million per year, to enable us to support regions beyond Taranaki as they navigate the transition to a low-emissions future
  • Preventing unnecessary waste by phasing out single use and hard to recycle plastics and by creating a $50m Plastics Innovation Fund to develop alternatives
  • Reducing waste by investing in waste infrastructure and projects, and by establishing mandatory product stewardship schemes
  • Improving domestic recycling through making it harder to export plastic waste and by standardising kerbside collection of recycling and food waste
  • Phasing out coal-fired boilers and decarbonising public transport buses
  • Continuing to work with farmers and boost funding across agricultural climate change research
  • Phasing out fossil fuels in process heat by preventing installation of new low and medium temperature coal-fired boilers
  • Decarbonising the public transport bus fleet by 2035
  • Supporting agricultural climate change research programmes.

We have taken some serious measures to protect our natural environment and combat climate change, but we know there is much more to do.

Head here for our record on environment and climate change, and stay in the loop with the latest announcements by signing up to our mailing list and following us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.