Jacinda Ardern makes moves to declare climate change emergency

Author
Jason Walls, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 26 Nov 2020, 12:34PM
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaking during the Commission Opening of Parliament, Wellington. 25 November, 2020. NZ Herald photograph by Mark Mitchell
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaking during the Commission Opening of Parliament, Wellington. 25 November, 2020. NZ Herald photograph by Mark Mitchell

Jacinda Ardern makes moves to declare climate change emergency

Author
Jason Walls, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 26 Nov 2020, 12:34PM

Parliament will next week debate if a climate emergency in New Zealand should be declared, leader of the House Chris Hipkins has told MPs.

Speaking in the House after the Speech from the Throne, Hipkins said that the motion will be debated next Tuesday.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will personally introduce the motion next week, according to a spokesman.

This is not the first time Parliament has attempted to pass such a motion.

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

As Swarbrick is a non-executive member of Parliament – not a minister – her motion was able to be shot down with as little as one vote against it.

But if the motion is brought about by a Government minister – as it appears it will be by Hipkins – there is a normal vote.

As the House is majority Labour – with the support of the Greens – the motion is highly likely to pass.

Speaking to the Herald, Swarbrick said she was pleased the motion was being brought to the House by the Government.

"Continued advocacy by grassroots climate activists got this on the agenda and committed to, by most parties, during the election campaign."

She said the Greens were very much looking forward to the progression of this declaration, which she expects to pass next week.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at the time of the first climate change emergency last year that 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."

However, it is understood there was never an official Government motion as it was blocked by Labour's coalition partners, New Zealand First.

But National voted down the motion as it was just "Green Party symbolism," according to then-climate changes spokesman Todd Muller.

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".

In the time since the Greens first made the motion in 2019, there have been a number of protests outside of Parliament, urging the Government to declare a climate emergency.

Many councils around the country have already done so, as have many Governments in other countries around the world.

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