Source: New Zealand Government
Tēnā koutou katoa. Ngā mihi o te ata.
Earlier this month Save the Children wrote to me with their most up to date analysis on the impact of climate change.
What they said was that children born in Aotearoa today will experience up to five times as many heatwaves and four times as many droughts compared to older generations.
That is, unless drastic action is taken to cut emissions.
There is no way to put this any clearer. Inaction today, will cost our children dearly – and certainly more than it will cost us to put it right, now.
And we’ve known the consequences of inaction for over 30 years.
But here’s the worst of it: in the three decades since the science of climate change was made clear, roughly as much climate pollution has been emitted as from the start of the Industrial Revolution up to that point.
Politicians all over the world knew what was unfolding. Hundreds, both at the time and since, had a chance to stop it. But they didn’t.
And so, now, it falls to us.
Those of us in decision-making positions are in power at the last possible moment before the window of opportunity for change closes, maybe forever.
We came into government to take action on climate change.
We passed the Zero Carbon Act and established the Climate Change Commission.
We have introduced ways to make it more affordable for people to purchase clean vehicles.
We’re also making sure the vehicles we import meet emissions standards.
We’ll soon pass legislation that will require large financial organisations to report and act on their climate risk – the first country in the world to so.
We working with industry to shift to cleaner energy, as well as in ending the use of coal boilers in schools, hospitals, and universities – just as we put an end to offshore oil and gas exploration.
We are investing hundreds of millions into new cycleways and public transport.
We divested default Kiwisaver funds of fossil fuel investments.
We launched the Green Investment Fund and quadrupled the amount it has available to invest in the low carbon technologies of the future.
Ministers must now factor climate change into the decisions they make.
Together these actions add up to a better, cleaner future.
It is enough? No.
And it never will be. There will always be more to do.
We are yet to see a sustained decline in the pollution we put into the atmosphere.
Even when we do, we need to ensure that decline continues and, in fact, picks up pace, every year until we hit net-zero.
This is a marathon effort involving every part of government, every sector of the economy and every member of our team of five million over the next three decades and beyond.
We have to go faster and further if we are to reach our goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
If we can build on the progress we have made in Government, if business can step up and take urgent and collective action, and towns and cities, regions and local communities can work together, then we do have a decent chance of avoiding the worst effects of climate change.
That is why I am pleased today to invite all New Zealanders to share their ideas and solutions for what can go into our first ever Emissions Reduction Plan.
Since the Climate Commission published its final advice to the government at the end of May, Ministers have been working on proposals to reduce emissions in their sectors.
This has formed the basis of the consultation we are publishing today.
It is a work in progress.
What we are releasing today is not a draft of the Emissions Reduction Plan itself.
Rather it is an opportunity for people to feedback on what should be included in the plan.
Between now and May next year, when the final Emissions Reduction Plan must be published, we have work to do.
The Plan we release next year needs to uphold Te Tiriti o Waitangi. It needs to be equitable, fair, and inclusive.
It needs to set out future policy and regulatory change, as well as actions that can be taken in every business, every town and city, and every community.
Communities, businesses, unions, iwi, young people, faith groups, organisations and people from all walks of life, have made it clear to me that they want to be involved in making the plan for how we will reach a zero carbon Aotearoa.
And they will be.
We want to work with all of these groups to create an Emissions Reduction Plan that we can all be proud of.
The emission budgets cannot be achieved through Government policy alone, they require all of us working together.
And so we want to hear from people about new policy ideas that could be included in the plan.
As well as how the Government can help to ensure that the choices we all have to make every day – from how we get around, to the way we heat our homes – help to achieve our climate targets.
We want to hear what organisations and businesses can contribute to meeting the first emissions budget – and, crucially, what support they will need from government to make it happen.
This feedback will support the whole country to achieve a low carbon future, where everybody has what they need to lead fulfilling, meaningful and prosperous lives.
A future where our economy and everyday tasks are powered by clean, renewable energy. Where there is cleaner air to breathe; cars charged overnight by renewables; homes heated by the power of the sun, and kept warm by insulation; lower energy bills, so there is more money in people’s pockets to enjoy what they love.
Building that future is collective effort and we all have a part to play.
No reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.