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Greenpeace is calling on the Government to follow the lead of the UK and declare a climate and environment emergency, after history making scenes in UK Parliament this morning saw MPs pass a motion to make the country the first in the world to do so.

It comes on the back of waves of climate protests that have hit the UK, which include hundreds of thousands of students going on strike from school, and thousands of people being arrested due to mass occupations as part of the Extinction Rebellion movement.

Scotland and Wales have also declared a climate emergency following protests there.

Greenpeace Executive Director, Dr Russel Norman, says it’s time for the New Zealand Government to do the same.

“New Zealand is already seen as a world leader when it comes to climate action thanks to the historic ban on new oil and gas exploration permits,” he says.

“We now need to go a step further by formally declaring a climate and environment emergency, and follow it up with the action required to meet the greatest challenge of our time.

“The scale of ambition needed to solve a problem as large as climate change has been likened to a war-time effort.”

Greenpeace is calling for a series of sweeping policy changes to tackle the climate emergency.

These include a complete end to fossil fuel exploration on land and sea, including revoking existing oil and gas permits. The organisation is also demanding a plan to phase out the import of petrol and diesel vehicles, and heavy investment  in electric transport and renewable energy like wind and solar with batteries.

Norman says the country’s biggest climate and water polluter, agriculture, must be a key focus.

“We need to ban synthetic nitrogen fertiliser, which drives the dairy intensification that pollutes our climate and our rivers. We also have to dramatically reduce the number of dairy cows in the country, and change land use to less polluting ways of farming,” he says.

Among the most intense gases that cause atmospheric heating are nitrous oxide, which has nearly 300 times the heating power of carbon dioxide, and methane.

“We have been clearly warned by scientists that we have just 10 years to halve emissions in order to avoid climate breakdown that will cause dramatic rates of extinction, and the displacement and death of tens of millions of people,” Norman says.

“Climate change is a global emergency – let’s act like it.”

ENDS