Jacinda Ardern keen on declaring a climate-change emergency

Jason Walls, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 3 July 2019, 2:35PM
The Prime Minister says more MPs need to come on board first. (Photo / NZ Herald)
The Prime Minister says more MPs need to come on board first. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the Government is keen to declare a climate-change emergency but work needs to be done to get more MPs onboard.

"I don't see why there should be any reasons why members of Parliament wouldn't want to demonstrate that this is a matter of urgency," she told media today when talking about climate change.

In May, Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick attempted to pass a motion in the House declaring an emergency but it was torpedoed by National.

In a statement at the time, the party's climate-change spokesman Todd Muller said the attempt to declare a climate change emergency without a proper debate "goes against the bipartisan approach to climate change".

Ardern today said the Government had voted in favour of the motion because "we see this as an urgent issue".

"We're not opposed to the idea of declaring an emergency in Parliament.

"Certainly I would like to think our policies and our approach demonstrates that we do see it as an emergency."

She cited the zero carbon bill, the $14 billion the Government is spending on public transport and the banning of offshore oil exploration as areas that demonstrate the Government's commitment to fighting climate change.

Over the last few months, councils across New Zealand have been declaring a climate change emergency.

"By unanimously voting to declare a climate emergency we are signalling the council's intention to put climate change at the front and centre of our decision making," Mayor Phil Goff said last month.

The UK, Ireland, Canada, and France have all declared climate emergencies and yesterday, more than 50 New Zealand scientists called for a declaration of a national climate emergency.

Swarbrick told the Herald she plans to have another go at getting Parliament to declare a climate emergency.

"I would just hope that, at the end of the day, [National] understand how crucially important this is for all New Zealanders."

She said recent poll numbers show the majority of New Zealanders are in favour of an emergency being declared.

But she would need to get National on board and that would be a tough sell, according to Muller.

The main reason National didn't vote to declare the emergency in May was because it was just "Green Party symbolism", Muller said.

"There was no plan at all behind it – normally when Government's calls emergencies, it brings the whole aspect of the state to bear to be able to deal with it."

He said National would be unlikely to vote to declare a climate change emergency until there was a proper plan in place and it wasn't just "the Green Party waving its flag".


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