This morning New Zealanders are waking up to a fresh Government – one that has no good reason to put off action on nature and climate.
“With an historic landslide to Labour, solid wins for the Greens and the departure of NZ First,” says Greenpeace Executive Director Russel Norman, “this new Government has no more excuses.”
“NZ First was often blamed for slow progress on environment policies, and sometimes this was true.”
“With Winston Peters and his party gone,” says Dr Norman, “we expect to see immediate moves to tackle agricultural climate pollution, to invest in rail and cycleways, and to protect the oceans from overfishing.”
Greenpeace believes the election result has given a Labour-led administration the clear runway to pursue an environmental position much more in keeping with the ideals that most Kiwis share.
Polls show that 79 percent of New Zealanders are concerned about climate change and seven out of 10 want a transformative green recovery out of Covid-19.
The Prime Minister said last night she wants to “build back better from the Covid crisis” as Greenpeace has been urging the Government to do.
Even if Jacinda Ardern decides to go it alone, last night’s result gives her the impetus to hit the accelerator on climate and nature.
If the Maori Party is returned to parliament with its strong environmental platform, that should embolden the Prime Minister further.
“The new Government couldn’t have a clearer mandate,” says Dr Norman.
“The National party ran a very overt anti-climate action campaign this election. This weekend’s result in favour of Labour and the Greens is a strong rejection of that outdated position.”
Greenpeace says the Government must get to work supporting farmers in the transition to regenerative agriculture.
“Intensive dairying is New Zealand’s biggest climate polluter. We can’t go another term without doing something about it. The new Government, with or without the Greens, needs to start phasing out synthetic nitrogen fertiliser, bring agriculture into the emissions trading scheme and introduce a $1 billion fund for regenerative agriculture.”
Dr Norman is also expecting swift action to introduce cameras on all commercial fishing vessels and an end to bottom trawling in sensitive marine environments.
“New Zealand First’s close links to the fishing industry delayed much-needed reforms, but that political barrier is now lifted. We need cameras on boats and a review of the Quota Management System.”
Greenpeace says with the Covid Recovery funds there has never been a better opportunity to overhaul our climate-polluting transport system.
“Transport is the fastest growing source of carbon emissions in New Zealand. We would expect to see billions invested in railways, bike lanes, electric buses and electric cars. And a phase-out of new petrol and diesel vehicle imports by 2030.”
“And it’s time to give the Climate Commission real power to drive emission reductions.
Dr Norman says Jacinda Ardern’s promise of transformative change was not realised in the first term of her Government.
“Now is her moment to deliver.”
“It is still unclear if the Greens will continue to be part of the new government. But if they do they will need to go to that negotiating table with their best foot forward and deliver the climate and environmental policies that Kiwis want and nature needs”
“And as for National, we are always ready to help them make their policies much more climate friendly, ready for the 2023 election.”
The new government must use the Covid Recovery Fund to invest in clean transformative industries like renewable energy, regenerative farming and electric transport.