Source: Greenpeace New Zealand
As the Covid-19 pandemic takes its toll on the New Zealand economy, Greenpeace is pushing back on industry lobbyists and politicians arguing for weakening and delaying environmental protections.
The environment group says that now more than ever, we need to protect the things that are essential to our health and wellbeing, like clean water, a safe climate and healthy ecosystems.
“While the rest of the nation is uniting to fight Covid-19, big polluters and their advocates are trying to exploit the crisis for their own material benefit, ” says Greenpeace campaigner Gen Toop.
Federated Farmers has called for a delay on fresh water, climate and biodiversity regulation, there have been calls to delay marine protection, and Shane Jones has expressed a desire to ride roughshod over the RMA.
“One of the biggest mistakes we could make right now would be to overlook or undervalue the essentials that nature provides to us,” says Toop.
“If we don’t safeguard and regenerate nature’s essential services, we leave ourselves open to multiple threats in the future.”
Experts have linked the emergence of infectious diseases with increasing pressure on the natural world, and the World Health Organisation has warned that climate change will have major consequences for infectious disease transmission.
“It is deeply disturbing to see some politicians and dairy industry lobbyists using this crisis to try to weaken and delay critical environmental protections, like new rules to protect our drinking water, rivers and lakes,” says Toop.
As the government prepares a multi-billion dollar economic stimulus package to manage the Covid-19 downturn, Toop says we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in protecting the natural systems we rely on.
“Now is our chance to transform our economy and society so that it regenerates critical ecosystems, improves wellbeing and drives changes in lifestyle that promote positive environmental and health outcomes.”
Greenpeace has produced a Green Covid Response package and presented it to Government Ministers.
Toop says there are some immediate “shovel-ready” projects that could roll out as soon as the lockdown lifts, including a nationwide programme to warm up New Zealand’s 600,000 under-insulated homes, and the fencing and planting of New Zealand’s waterways.
“The longer-term pathway to recovery of the kind outlined in the ‘Green Covid Response’ includes tens of thousands of good green jobs, designing and delivering the clean infrastructure we need to live well and get around,” she says.
“This includes public transport, cycling and rail infrastructure; solar and wind projects; regenerative farming; eradicating pests, planting native trees and restoring critical habitats; and constructing affordable homes.”