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WWF-New Zealand: Budget 2022 - Is The ERP All There Is For Our Environment?

Statement from WWF-New Zealand CEO Livia Esterhazy:

This year the Government took the big step to deliver our first Emissions Reduction Plan but without significant investment, we have to wonder is the ERP all there is for our environment? A plan only works if it leads to significant action and this year’s budget is an anemic response to dual environmental crises - climate change and biodiversity- that Aotearoa faces.

The finance minister said New Zealand is now walking the walk, but given the lack of investment by this Government into our environment, we won’t be getting very far.

We have more than 4,000 endangered endemic species, two-thirds of our rivers are still unswimmable, only 10% of our wetlands remain, and our entire marine environment is under threat. Meanwhile, nature underpins everything we need on our planet to survive. It is the key to our health and well-being. This is acknowledged in the ERP announcement but this isn’t reflected in the investment being made in the 2022 budget, particularly when it comes to investment in our Blue Economy.

Our ocean produces food, supports livelihoods, regulates our climate, and is responsible for around 80% of our indigenous biodiversity. It acts as a buffer, protecting us from climate impacts by absorbing much of the heat and carbon we emit, and in return it generates at least half of Earth’s oxygen.

The Government says more research is needed to understand the role of non-forest ecosystems in climate change policy but we already know that our ocean is a carbon sink. We also know our ocean is already struggling trying to keep up with our current behaviour. It’s becoming warmer and more acidic, and the number of dead zones have quadrupled over the last six decades.

Decades of under-researching and under-investing has meant that less than 1% of our marine and coastal biodiversity is protected, while over 30% of our land is protected. With the fourth largest Exclusive Economic Zone in the world, we have a lot of unprotected ocean. It is impossible to solve the climate crisis without addressing the protection and restoration of our ocean. We agree with the Government that nature and biodiversity are integral to solving the climate crises. Nature-based solutions are essential, and Aotearoa should look to our vast ocean and invest in a sustainable blue economy, to meet our climate and biodiversity goals.

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