Parliament votes in favour of declaring a climate change emergency

Author
Jason Walls, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 2 Dec 2020, 3:02PM

Parliament votes in favour of declaring a climate change emergency

Author
Jason Walls, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 2 Dec 2020, 3:02PM

New Zealand’s Parliament has just given the green tick to declaring a climate emergency.

Labour, the Greens and Maori Party have voted in favour - with National and ACT against.

MPs went head-to-head in the House this afternoon - after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern introduced the motion.

As part of the declration, The Government will require all its agencies and ministries to exclusively buy electric vehicles and will mandate all public sector buildings to be up to a "green standard".

This is part of the Government goal to make the entire public sector carbon neutral within the next five years.

"The public sector needs to be, and will be, an exemplar that sets the standard we all need to achieve by 2050," Ardern said before her speech.

"It's an important step forward in our plan for New Zealand to be carbon neutral by 2050."

She added that action on climate change is a priority for the Labour Government and an integral part of its Covid recovery plan.

"We need to seize the advantages of a climate-focused recovery and the economic prosperity such a strategy offers."

The electric vehicle mandate is a lofty goal – there are currently nearly 16,000 vehicles in the Government's fleet.

Today's announcement is the first major post-election commitment by the Government – Ardern said the commitments show the urgency of the situation.

The commitments mean Government agencies will be required to measure, verify and report emissions annually.

They will also need to set gross emissions reduction targets, as well as introducing a plan for how they will reduce emissions.

When it comes to vehicles, Government agencies will be required to "optimise their car fleet" by purchasing electric vehicles or hybrids where EVs are not appropriate for the required use.

That is unless their operational requirements or other circumstances require – such as military vehicles where there is no electric alternatives.

As well as this, Ardern has announced that the Government has begun phasing out coal boilers in its ministries and agencies.

There are roughly 200 coal-fired boilers currently heating water and buildings in the State Sector – the largest and most active will be phased out first.

This, and the purchasing of a greener fleet, will be funded through the previously announced $200 million State Sector Decarbonisation Fund.

Climate Change Minister James Shaw said the 2025 goal shows this Government is taking issues of the world's changing climate seriously.

The implementing of the energy efficiency building rating standard will come into force in January 2026 – that will give the Government time to implement the new mandate.

But, from now on, there will be a requirement to achieve a minimum of 4 stars when establishing new leases and a minimum of 5 stars for new builds.