Insight: Time for Government to act

An unprecedented responsibility is sitting with Government Ministers as they finalise New Zealand’s first Emissions Reduction Plan.

Aotearoa New Zealand’s first Emissions Reduction Plan is due for release next month.

The expectation of commitment to take real action now has only intensified with the release of the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) on mitigating climate change.

The report delivered an ultimatum on climate action: It is now or never. We are perilously close to ‘too late’.

Successive governments around the world have done too little, the report says. Even if all the carbon-cutting policies that governments have committed to were fully implemented, the world would still warm by 3.2 degrees this century – with catastrophic impacts including deadly heatwaves, storms and food and water shortages. Average surface temperatures may not have been that hot in the last 300 million years.

If policymakers worldwide are to deliver transformational changes in energy generation, transportation, and food systems in time to head off the worst impacts of our emissions, there is a rapidly closing window of time in which to act.

So as Ministers in Aotearoa finalise the policies that will make up our first Emissions Reduction Plan, a huge responsibility is on their shoulders.

Recognising the challenge and responsibilities they face, I have written to Ministers with relevant portfolios this month, reminding them of the Commission’s recommendations from our first advice to Government last year, Ināia tonu nei, and the research and evidence supporting our advice.

When He Pou a Rangi Climate Change Commission delivered Ināia tonu nei, we presented ambitious, achievable, affordable and equitable paths for Aotearoa to meet its climate targets and contribute to global efforts to address climate change.

It is now over to Ministers to determine and resource the specific policies that will form the Government’s first Emissions Reduction Plan, and to set the first three emissions budgets to 2035.

In doing so, we hope they will heed the latest call from the IPCC and the advice delivered by He Pou a Rangi: ināia tonu nei – the time is now.

You can read my letters here:

The destination we must reach has been agreed and even the direction of travel to get there is clear.

Arguments about the destination or the path must not further delay action, or slow the pace in decarbonising our society and reducing emissions from agriculture and waste.

Any action delayed would deny us the chance to avoid the most catastrophic impacts for the environment, economy and our communities, or to seize potential opportunities from adaptation.  

Our over-arching message to Ministers echoes that of the IPCC - ināia tonu nei.