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Government Policies Failing Our Environment

The Environmental Defence Society’s annual conference The Future is Now: Biodiversity, Climate and Us was held in Ōtautahi Christchurch last week. With nearly 500 people in-person and online, it was the biggest yet, reflecting serious and widespread interest in the Government’s evolving environmental policies.

“Our presenters came from many sectors and perspectives and engaged in often frank and sometimes challenging dialogue,” said EDS CEO Gary Taylor.

“It’s clear that the pace and scale of unwinding of environmental and climate policies is causing frustration, anger and anxiety across the country, especially amongst young New Zealanders.

“A key theme that emerged from the discourse was that we shouldn’t silo our climate and biodiversity responses: we need to address them together and transition our energy systems without causing environmental harm. To smooth that pathway there is an increasing need for everyone on all sides of the debate to engage more deeply, to foster durable solutions.

“There was also a strong sense that the Government’s suite of controversial Te Tiriti o Waitangi policies is bringing iwi, environmental NGOs and affected communities closer together. Many speakers could not fathom why Te Mana o te Wai was being written out of freshwater law.

“Of particular interest were the in-depth conversations with Hon Shane Jones and Hon Rachel Brooking on a range of issues, including the Fast-track Approvals Bill. It’s clear from Minister Jones that he favours changes to it, and he elaborates on his ‘Goodbye Freddie’ comment. Rachel Brooking says that the Act (if confirmed), and at least some potentially approved projects, will not survive a change of government. That should give prospective applicants reason to pause.

“Finally, we’d like to publicly apologise to Hon Simon Watts for the unscheduled interruption to his speech from student protesters. We really wanted to hear from him and had some hard questions about his government’s climate policies. But that will have to wait for another time and place,” Mr Taylor concluded.

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