Wednesday 8 May 2019
Youth climate change campaigners Generation Zero are delighted that the long-awaited new climate change law that they have been advocating for, has finally begun its journey through Parliament. They are calling all parties in Parliament to work together to pass the Bill into law.
“Climate change doesn’t care about political leanings or elections. When we drafted the Zero Carbon Act blueprint two years ago we worked really hard to get all political parties to support it. To create the thriving future we know is possible, we need everyone committed to this journey.” Lisa McLaren, Zero Carbon Act national campaign convener said. “Overseas experience shows that cross-party support is vital to the success of a climate change law like this.”
The youth group says that all parties in Parliament must support an effective and ambitious law for Aotearoa New Zealand. “Achieving cross-party consensus should not be an excuse for watering down the proposed law. The Zero Carbon Act must commit New Zealand to a zero carbon future and ensure we have a plan that lasts beyond election cycles.”
The group is highly critical that the Government has decided to tie the Zero Carbon Bill so closely with the ETS (Emissions Trading Scheme) by amending the Climate Change Response Act, rather than creating a separate new law. “The Zero Carbon Act was designed to provide long-term certainty and political stability,” said McLaren. “It needs to sit above specific policies like the ETS that are regularly reviewed and changed.”
Generation Zero is concerned that the Government’s proposals do not reflect the urgency of the climate crisis. “The latest scientific evidence highlights how quickly we need to act” said James Young-Drew, Zero Carbon Act policy lead. “Last year, the Intergovernmental Panel set out the catastrophic outcomes of allowing global warming to exceed 1.5°C. To avoid climate disaster, we need to halve our carbon emissions by 2030 and reach zero carbon by 2050 at the absolute latest.”
“Our law needs to match the urgency and scale of this crisis,” said Young-Drew. “Long-term thinking is important. But the Zero Carbon Act also needs to drive immediate, transformative change. The next decade is crucial.”
Generation Zero emphasises that the Zero Carbon Act must honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi by giving effect to meaningful partnership with iwi/ hapū and by drawing upon Māori knowledge and values to inform our guardianship of the environment. The law also needs to ensure a Just Transition by supporting workers in emission-intensive industries.
“Above all else, the new climate law needs to be ambitious” said Young-Drew. “Ambitious in its targets, ambitious in its recognition of young and future generations, and ambitious in the way the Government plans to work with iwi and vulnerable communities”.
About the Zero Carbon Act
History of the Zero Carbon Act
The Zero Carbon Act framework, developed by Generation Zero in 2016, has been steadily gaining support throughout the last three years. Most major political parties have indicated support for some of the key elements of the act.
The Zero Carbon Act also has support from environmental groups such as Forest & Bird and WWF-New Zealand, 14 leading New Zealand aid agencies including Oxfam NZ, businesses such as Z Energy, and youth political parties including the Young Nats, Young Labour, Young Greens, Young New Zealand First and Young Māori Party.
Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright’s final report also recommended the policy framework of the Zero Carbon Act and has received backing from organisations such as Dairy NZ, Westpac, and BNZ.
On 12 October 2017, attendees at the Australia/NZ Climate Change & Business Conference in Auckland, including representatives from the business sector, NGOs, and central and local government, unanimously passed a resolution in support of the concepts outlined in Generation Zero’s Zero Carbon Act proposal.
What is the Zero Carbon Act?
The Zero Carbon Act is a legal framework based on the UK’s Climate Change Act 2008. It requires governments to reduce New Zealand’s emissions year-on-year and plan towards a long-term target: zero net emissions of long-lived greenhouse gases by 2050 or sooner, and significant reductions on biogenic methane, in line with the IPCC’s 1.5°C report.
How does it
The Zero Carbon Act will require future governments to set a pathway of five year ‘carbon budgets’ on track to the zero carbon target and produce clear plans to meet these. It will establish an independent Climate Commission to provide expert advice on targets and policies and to monitor the Government’s progress.
Will it do anything
The Act will also require the government to prepare a National Climate Risk Assessment and a National Adaptation plan to address these climate risks, which include sea level rise, droughts and extreme weather events.
How is it different from the UK’s
A key difference from the UK model is the introduction of a ‘two baskets approach’ for the different greenhouse gases. Short-lived gases (such as methane) do not need to go to zero and will have separate targets under the Zero Carbon Act. Another difference proposed by Generation Zero is that the targets in the Zero Carbon Act will apply to domestic emissions only (the ‘firewall principle’).
For more information see the Zero Carbon Act summary: www.zerocarbonact.nz/zca-summary/
For more FAQs see www.zerocarbonact.nz/faq/
About Generation Zero
Generation Zero is a nationwide, volunteer, youth-led organisation formed in 2011 to champion solutions for a zero carbon Aotearoa New Zealand. www.generationzero.org