We're working hard to clean up our oceans and make our rivers swimmable again, to protect our natural biodiversity, and to care for our small part the world (including our Pacific neighbours) in the face of climate change.
Take a look at some of the steps we've taken for our environment so far:
- Ended new bids for offshore oil and gas exploration
Earlier this year, Jacinda Ardern announced that New Zealand would lead the world and stop issuing new offshore oil and gas exploration permits. It's an important step to address climate change and create a clean, green and sustainable future for New Zealand.
No current jobs will be affected by this as we are honouring all agreements with current permit holders. We are providing certainty for industry and communities so they can plan for the future. We will be working with the Taranaki community and businesses in particular on this as a long term project, ensuring there is a just transition to a clean energy future. We are making careful and considered changes over time and supporting communities with a managed transition.
Ultimately, we’re striking the right balance for New Zealand - we’re protecting existing industry, and protecting future generations from climate change. We've introduced the Crown Minerals (Petroleum) Amendment Bill to pass this into law.
- Began phasing out single-use plastic bags
We’re phasing-out single-use plastic bags so we can better look after our environment and safeguard New Zealand’s clean, green reputation. We’re listening to New Zealanders who want us to take action on this problem. This year, 65,000 Kiwis signed a petition calling for an outright ban. It’s also the biggest single subject school children write to our Prime Minister about.
We need to be far smarter in the way we manage waste and this is a great place to start. We invited submissions from New Zealanders as to the options for the date the phase-out is to be complete by, what bags should be included, any retailers that should be exempted, and how best to help people with the transition. We received over 4,000 submissions during the five-week period.
The next step is for us to work through the submissions and feedback received during the consultation and to provide advice to Cabinet. The regulations may be in force as soon as July 2019.
Plastic microbeads are found in personal care products such as facial cleansers, bath scrubs and toothpaste. They get washed down the drain but are too small to be fully captured by our waste water treatment systems, causing long-term damage to New Zealand’s marine life.
This ban contributes to global efforts to reduce the amount of plastic ending up in our oceans.
- Began process for Zero Carbon Bill
The Zero Carbon Bill will be a cornerstone of New Zealand’s transition to a low emission climate resilient future that will help us achieve our international commitments. We know many New Zealanders wanted to be part of the discussion on how we reduce our emissions - that's why we encouraged submissions from anyone who wanted to be part of the national conversation on climate change and the Zero Carbon Bill.
More than 15,000 New Zealanders and organisations had their say on the Government’s proposed Zero Carbon Bill. From the responses we received, it’s clear that New Zealanders understand that this proposed Bill is critical to New Zealand’s future.
The Bill is currently being drafted, informed by the public submissions and formal consultation process. We are proud that The Zero Carbon Act is on track to be in force by July 2019.
- Planned for the future of our fresh water
We are taking vital steps to improve the state of our waterways. We've committed to a noticeable improvement in water quality within five years.
We're focusing on at-risk catchments so as to halt the decline. We’re not going to leave the hard issues for future generations.
It also sets out a new approach to the Māori/Crown relationship that will acknowledge Māori interests in fair access to water to develop their land. We acknowledge that Māori have rights and interests in freshwater, and we are committed to a substantive discussion on how to address these interests by taking practical steps to address constraints on Māori land development.
- Set up Climate Change Committee
The Interim Climate Change Committee was set up as one of the key steps towards establishing an independent Climate Change Commission under the Zero Carbon Act by May next year. Set up in April, the Committee has been investigating how best to transition New Zealand to a net zero emissions economy by 2050.
Committee members were chosen because of their expertise across key areas related to climate change: agriculture, agribusiness, climate change science and policy, resource economics and impacts, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, te reo me ona tikanga Māori and Māori interests, international competitiveness, and energy production and supply.
- Boosted Foreign Aid for Pacific neighbours to deal with climate change
We know we have a responsibility of care for the environment in which we live, but the challenge of climate change requires us to look beyond our domestic borders - and in New Zealand’s case, towards the Pacific.
Announced by the Prime Minister during her visit to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, we have delivered a significant boost to our Pacific neighbours, to assist them in facing the challenges presented by climate change. We committed to providing at least $300m over four years in climate-related development assistance, with most of this going to the Pacific.
We recognise our neighbours in the Pacific region are uniquely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. This funding will complement our ongoing support to help developing countries in the Pacific and beyond meet their emissions targets through renewable energy and agriculture initiatives.
- Created the Green Investment Fund
Some of the greatest investment growth happening globally now is in clean, low emissions technologies and business activity. The Green Investment Fund will accelerate investments that lower greenhouse gas emissions, with $100 million initial capital.
With a Green Investment Fund, we’re showing the Government is committed to attracting the kind of private investment that will bring high-value, high-productivity, high-income jobs here to New Zealand. It's a financial vehicle comparable with similar funds elsewhere in the world, particularly the UK and Australia.
The Green Investment Fund, the Zero Carbon Act, and emission trading scheme changes, are part of our Government’s work to put in place the policies that will guide us down the path towards more resilient economic activity.
- Signed UNEP Clean Seas Accord
New Zealand has joined the United Nations-led Clean Seas campaign to rid our oceans of plastic.
By signing up to the CleanSeas campaign, we are making it clear that New Zealand wants to be part of the solution to the problem of plastic waste in our oceans. We are one of more than 40 countries that have signed up so far.
Measures such as banning microbeads and phasing out plastic bags demonstrate our commitment to preventing litter from entering oceans by hitting it at its source - on land.
- Committed to protecting our Kauri
We have begun immediate and urgent efforts to protect kauri trees from dieback disease. We have asked the Kauri Dieback Programme to develop a National Pest Management Plan (NPMP) in light of the continued spread of this disease, which has the potential to take kauri to the brink of extinction.
In the past, we have relied on people voluntarily complying with the rules when visiting kauri areas – that they must clean their footwear, stay on marked tracks, and keep their dogs on leashes. That approach has not worked, so it is time that we come up with tougher solution. An NPMP shows how serious we are about protecting kauri. It is by far the strongest piece of regulation available and will ensure mandatory hygiene practices, consistent regulations that apply nationally, stronger governance and access to funding.
All New Zealanders and visitors to our country have a role to play in protecting kauri and taking personal responsibility to follow good hygiene practices and reduce the risk of spreading the disease.
- Boosted Department of Conservation (DOC)
Budget 2018 provided the largest increase in DOC’s budget since 2002 and delivered on our promise to invest significantly in conservation. We are backing our unique New Zealand environment - better protecting our native birds and other animals so we can once again see species thriving in their natural habitats.
After years of neglect and piecemeal funding, Budget 2018 ensures that DOC can plan ahead and target the pests that are devastating the habitats of New Zealand’s unique species.