1 May 2014
Generation Zero lays down election challenge in new report
Youth organisation Generation Zero has released a report today calling for political parties to show leadership on climate change by committing to develop and implement a plan that will see New Zealand phase out fossil fuels for all energy and transport needs by 2050.
The 40-page report, A Challenge to Our Leaders: Why New Zealand Needs a Clean Energy Plan, draws together information from a wide range of sources and new analysis on the linked challenges of climate change and energy security, opportunities and responsibility facing New Zealand, and the Government's current response.
Lead author and Generation Zero policy spokesperson, Paul Young, says: “This report is a call from the younger generation for leadership to steer our country decisively towards a clean energy future. The simple conclusions are that it's urgent, it's doable, others are getting on with it, but New Zealand has now fallen far behind with no plan and no clear direction.”
“We hope the report will prompt a response from political parties and spark debate about New Zealand's direction on climate change as a critical issue this election.”
The report highlights the particular importance of reducing carbon pollution from fossil fuels to keep global average temperature rise under the globally agreed 2°C limit. The 5th Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that for a two-in-three probability of achieving the goal, the world must keep further carbon dioxide emissions under a cumulative cap of approximately one trillion tonnes. Calculations in the report show that New Zealand would need to start reducing CO2 emissions immediately towards zero before 2050 to stay within a per capita share of this remaining global carbon budget.
“Global institutions, such as the OECD, and business leaders – even oil company Shell – are now openly calling on governments to commit to achieving net zero CO2 emissions and forming a plan to do so. It's time for New Zealand's leaders to listen and act,” says Mr Young.
The report emphasises the example set by Denmark, which is already implementing a cross-party clean energy plan to completely phase out fossil fuels for all energy and transport by 2050.
“Denmark is an inspiration and beacon of hope for the world by showing that tackling climate change and good economic management can go hand in hand. We can absolutely do the same here in New Zealand. Not only is it simply the right thing to do, it is actually a huge opportunity to drive greater productivity and innovation and grow sustainable, well-paid jobs,” says Mr Young.
However, the report shows that New Zealand's carbon pollution and dependence on fossil fuels will continue to grow under current government policy, which is described as “virtually indistinguishable from 'business as usual'”. Official projections estimate that current climate policies will shave just 0.4% off total greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 compared with having no policies in place at all.
The report analyses the current Government's track record and details how any meaningful policies once in place to reduce fossil fuel dependence, such as vehicle fuel economy standards, have been hollowed out or removed, and the Government has allowed the carbon price crash to near zero.
“The basic choice we face is are we going to keep ignoring the problem, or are we going to do something about it and become part of the solution?” says Mr Young.
“The Government's own figures show it is currently choosing to do virtually nothing. For the sake of young people's future, that needs to change. We can't afford another three years of backtracking and delay.”
The report is the first of a series to be released under Generation Zero's Vote New Energy campaign, which will encourage Kiwis to vote for parties that have made a commitment to put in place a Clean Energy Plan. Further releases in the pipeline will expand on what a real Clean Energy Plan could look like.
The report contains forewords from climate scientist Dr James Renwick and energy expert Professor Ralph Sims, both of whom were lead authors for the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report. Dr Renwick writes:
“Many of the technologies we need for the transition to zero-carbon energy sources are at hand. What’s required is political will and the courage and vision to seize the myriad of opportunities before us. New Zealand could be at the forefront of the new energy technologies needed in the 21st century, or we could continue drilling for oil and pumping up the dairy herd. The choice is ours.”
The report can be downloaded from Generation Zero’s website at www.genzero.org.nz/challengetoourleaders.
Generation Zero is a non-partisan, nationwide group of young New Zealanders founded in 2011 to advance solutions to climate change and help put New Zealand on track towards a zero carbon future. The group has over 150 active volunteers around the country and over 10,000 supporters. www.generationzero.org.nz