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New Zealand passes landmark "Zero Carbon" Bill

In New Zealand, the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill was passed by Parliament at its third reading on November 7, 2019. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called it a "historic moment" and told the House that New Zealand would not be a "slow follower" when it comes to climate change action.

On November 7, 2019, the New Zealand Parliament passed the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill – at its Third Reading (photo and video courtesy New Zealand House of Representatives).

The landmark legislation which provides a framework to support New Zealanders to prepare for, and adapt to the effects of climate change delivers on the Government’s Coalition and Confidence Supply agreements and is a key part of the Government’s plan to tackle the long-term challenge of climate change.

This is a historic piece of legislation and is the centrepiece for meaningful climate change action in New Zealand. Climate change is the defining long-term issue of our generation that successive Governments have failed to address. Today we take a significant step forward in our plan to reduce New Zealand’s emissions. We as the elected representatives of New Zealanders must take the opportunity to act on climate change before the window closes. We’ve led the world before in nuclear disarmament and in votes for women, now we are leading again, said Minister for Climate Change James Shaw.

The Bill had nearly eleven thousand written and oral submissions. The Committee heard from parents, students, scientists, farmers, academics, health professionals, activists, iwi, local government and many more.

This Bill belongs to New Zealand, and together we have ensured law that ensures we shift towards a low emissions country that keeps us all safe. The budgets provide the pathway towards the 2050 target and confidence for New Zealanders that we are moving towards a more climate-resilient future, said Minister Shaw.

Part of the NZ Government’s climate plan

The Zero Carbon Act is a key part of the Government’s plan to tackle climate change and limiting global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. The Bill takes a split greenhouse gases (GHG) approach, with long-lived gases and short-lived respectively. It also sets out a 10 percent reduction target for biological methane emissions by 2030, and “aims” for a 24-47 percent reduction by 2050.

A Climate Change Commission, intended to give “advice, guidance, and regular five-yearly ’emission budgets’ is to be set up. Other initiatives include:

  • Strengthening the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and inclusion of agriculture in emissions pricing by 2025
  • Planting one billion trees by 2028
  • Stopped issuing any new permits for offshore oil and gas exploration.
  • Investing in green hydrogen, biofuels with the goal of 100 percent renewable electricity generation by 2035.
  • Proposals to make electric and cleaner cars more affordable.
  • Record investments in public transport and walking and cycling infrastructure.
  • Establishment of an NZ$100 million Green Investment Fund

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told MPs New Zealand was on the “right side of history”.

Today we have made a choice that will leave a legacy… I hope that means that future generations will see that we, in New Zealand, were on the right side of history, said Prime Minister Ardern.

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