Our Climate Change Action

Last week, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Jan Wright, released a report called Stepping stones to Paris and beyond. Paris here means the Paris Climate Change agreement. Stepping stones are steps or plans to reach our target. New Zealand has set a target to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 but we do not have stepping stones in place so that we can reach that target.

Jan Wright said that members of her staff went to the UK to look at how the UK Climate Change Act of 2008 worked. In the years between 1990 and 2015, the UK reduced their emissions by 38% whereas New Zealand’s emissions increased by 64%. Some of that was because forests were cut down and not replanted. In 1990, we had 10,000 ha planted in forests whereas today we have only 5,000 ha and much of that land has been converted to dairy farming. We have also had a much faster population growth than the UK. UK has also been able to convert some of its electricity generation from coal to gas from the North Sea.

The main recommendations of the report are that New Zealand set up a climate change committee (she called it a commission) to set targets like the UK for every 5 years. This commission should be made up of experts in science, economy, technology and so on. The commission would report to the government, probably every year, about progress in reducing emissions.

This issue is so important that it must involve all political parties – the left, the right, centre parties and the Greens because governments come and go but this issue is here to stay. What’s more, it’s an issue that is very important for the next generation and for generations after that. A group of young people called Generation Zero believes New Zealand can achieve zero emissions.

Next post will look at this issue in more detail

Vocabulary

• greenhouse gas emissions – mostly carbon dioxide CO2
• target – goal, aim
• hectare (abbreviation ha) – 10,000 sq metres
• converted – changed from X to Y
• recommendations – strong suggestions for action






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