03 June 2015

Urgent call for a forum on Climate Change - Environment Commissioner

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment today issued an urgent call for a national forum to tackle climate change.

In her submission on the Government’s intended contribution to a new global climate agreement, Dr Jan Wright said a forum would help New Zealand develop a credible plan to reduce emissions.

“New Zealand should be presenting an ambitious climate target backed by a robust plan. This country has major opportunities to reduce emissions through forestry, electricity and transport, but they will not just happen of their own accord.”

An upcoming United Nations conference, to be held in Paris in December, aims to establish a new international agreement on reducing emissions of greenhouse gases that includes – for the first time - action from all countries.

“This is an important time. There is a new impetus for action with the world’s two largest economies – China and USA– setting ambitious targets. New Zealand needs to keep up.”

Dr Wright has made two recommendations in her submission responding to the discussion document on New Zealand’s intended contribution.

The first is that New Zealand should establish a collaborative forum to develop a plan for meeting emission reduction targets, as the Land and Water Forum has done for water quality. The second is that New Zealand must ensure any carbon units purchased offshore represent real emissions reductions and are not just ‘hot air’.

Dr Wright added that the measures currently in place for tackling climate change are inadequate.

“New Zealand’s primary mechanism for reducing greenhouse gas emissions - The Emissions Trading Scheme - has been repeatedly weakened and the country’s emissions continue to rise.”

At Paris, each country is to outline how it intends to tackle climate change. This includes setting a target for reducing emissions after 2020.

Each country also has to explain why its contribution is “fair and ambitious, in light of its national circumstances”.

Dr Wright said “The discussion document is disappointing – it is long on national circumstances, but short on ambition.”

The full submission is available here.

ENDS. 

For more details contact Dan Ormond 027 251 9849