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UPDATED – With just days to go until Election Day, we take a look at what New Zealand’s political parties have committed to so far, when it comes to addressing climate change and protecting nature.

This is not intended to tell you which party to vote for. We need all political parties to do better, so no matter who you do choose to vote for, this can help you ask them the important questions.

First, a few caveats. We have a lot of parties vying for election and they all have heaps of policies. To make this analysis possible, we’ve stuck to a few core issues that Greenpeace is actively campaigning on, specifically: agriculture, ocean protection, transport, energy and plastic waste.

We’ve also chosen to narrow our focus down to the parties that have been represented in Parliament in the last five years. These parties are (in alphabetical order): ACT, Greens, Labour, Māori, National and New Zealand First.

We haven’t covered every environmental issue or every party. For a more in-depth overview, we recommend looking at policy.nz. Also, if there’s anything we missed, please let us know in the comments so that we can update our analysis.

Remember, many of our political parties have yet to make announcements or commitments. You might also want to consider how the Government has been addressing your major concerns to date – see our analysis of the Government’s environmental performance. And keep an eye on our website for our reactions to political parties’ policy announcements.

Table of content

Transitioning to Regenerative Agriculture

Intensive dairying – is our biggest climate emitter. It’s also polluting our rivers and contaminating drinking water. Synthetic nitrogen fertiliser is the fuel for intensive dairying and too many cows. Any political party that’s serious about climate change and protecting our waterways needs to: 

  1. Phase-out synthetic nitrogen fertiliser and
  2. Invest in support for farmers to transition to regenerative agriculture.

What have our political parties committed to so far?

Māori Party

Phase out synthetic nitrogen fertiliser within five years.
Support Māori farmers to transition to regenerative agriculture.
Immediately bring agriculture into the emissions trading scheme.
Read our response to the Māori Party’s climate change policy here.

Green Party

Ban Palm Kernel Expeller (PKE)
Investing in supporting farmers to transition to regenerative agriculture.
Oppose irrigation projects that encourage intensive farming.
Phase-down synthetic nitrogen fertiliser, over the next 17 years.
Won’t commit to bring agriculture into the emissions trading scheme before 2025

Read our response to the Greens’ agriculture policy announcement here.

Labour Party

Won’t commit to bring agriculture into the emissions trading scheme before 2025.
Small increase in funding for agricultural emissions research 

Act Party

Reverse agricultural methane and freshwater reforms.

National Party

Delay bringing agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme.
Review or repeal nine of the new freshwater regulations put in under the current government, including the cap on synthetic fertiliser use.
 

See our response to the National Party’s agriculture policy here.

NZ First Party

Support research into regenerative farming models
Funding new irrigation schemes.

Protecting the Oceans

The world’s oceans provide half of our oxygen, food for a billion people, and a home for some of the most spectacular wildlife on Earth. Here in New Zealand, our seas are home to some of the most rare, precious and endangered creatures. But the impacts of climate change, pollution and destructive industries mean they’re in more danger than ever. The next Government needs to protect the oceans by:

  1. Putting cameras on all commercial fishing boats,
  2. Banning bottom trawling on vulnerable marine ecosystems like seamounts
  3. Banning seabed mining, and
  4. Pushing for a strong Global Oceans Treaty that protects a third of all the world’s oceans.

What have our political parties committed to so far?

National Party

Install cameras on all commercial fishing boats.

Māori Party

Ban seabed mining.

Labour Party

Continue the recently-announced policy of putting cameras on approximately 30% of the commercial fishing fleet by 2024

Green Party

Ban bottom trawling on seamounts, and other destructive fishing methods.

Moratorium on seabed mining

Speed up installation of cameras on commercial fishing boats.
 Restore shellfish beds.
Make leadership on the Global Oceans Treaty a priority
Protecting a third of New Zealand oceans by 2030
Review of fisheries management systems
Greenpeace applauds Green Party vision for thriving oceans

NZ First Party

No policy yet announced.

Act Party

No policy yet announced.

 

Transitioning to Clean Transport

Transport is New Zealand’s fastest growing source of carbon emissions. The main cause is our huge fleet of cars, which are also older than the global average. New Zealand’s car ownership is the highest in the OECD, and we have an unhealthy obsession with gas guzzling double-cab utes and SUVs. Here are some key things we should be looking for from political parties:

  1. A multi-billion dollar boost in investment in alternatives to driving: that means public transport, cycleways, walkways and rail.
  2. Less spending on new roads. 
  3. Introduce restrictions on the import of high emission vehicles. That could include a ban on new fossil fuel vehicle imports by 2030 and/or additional fees on high emitting cars.
  4. Support for low emissions and electric vehicles, like charging infrastructure and/or financial incentives to buy low emissions alternatives.

What have our political parties committed to so far?

Labour Party

Wellington rail upgrades.

Continue the low emission vehicle contestable fund for encouraging electric car use.
Introduce fuel efficiency standards for cars.
Make all new buses electric
A number of roading projects.

National Party

Investments in rail and rapid bus services in Auckland and Wellington.

Increased funding for Auckland ferries.

Electrify the rail line from Pukekohe to Pōkeno.

Commuter rail to Huapai.

Exempt electric vehicles from fringe-benefit tax and road user charges

All new Government vehicles to be electric

80,000 electric cars on NZ’s roads by 2023

Build a road and rail tunnel under Auckland harbour.

More than 15 roading projects.
Repeal Auckland regional fuel tax and pause fuel tax increase for three years.
Read our response to the National Party’s electric vehicles policy announcement here.

Green Party

More funding for cycle lanes, buses and trains in major cities.

Investment in regional rail services.

Expand electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

Introduce fuel efficiency standards for cars.

Subsidies for clean cars.

Incentives for heavy vehicles to use zero emissions fuels.

Act Party

No policy yet announced.

NZ First Party

No policy yet announced.

Māori Party

No policy yet announced

 

Transitioning to Clean Energy

To cut our emissions from energy, we need to get more efficient at using what we’ve already got. We also need to replace fossil fuels with clean, renewable electricity or other zero emissions fuels. Our national grid operator, Transpower, forecasts that our electricity production needs to increase by 68% by 2050 to meet the demand of more electric cars and factories. The next Government needs to:

  1. Commit to insulating New Zealand’s 600,000 under-insulated homes. 
  2. Support households and communities to make their own power from solar and wind.
  3. Phase out dirty fuels – that means banning all new oil, gas and coal development (both exploration and new infrastructure)

So what have our political parties committed to?

Green Party

Ban new coal and gas infrastructure; phase out existing coal boilers by 2030 and gas boilers by 2035.
Funding for local renewable energy projects.
Solar on all state houses.
Grants for homeowners to install solar panels.
  Five free LED light bulbs per household and additional support for home energy efficiency upgrades (e.g. insulation).
Support businesses to replace coal and gas with clean energy.
Remove barriers to clean energy development (rules and regulations).
End permits for onshore fossil fuel extraction.
Mandatory energy efficiency ratings for buildings and a stronger Building Code.
Read our response to the Green Party’s energy policy here.

Māori Party

End oil and gas extraction in the next five years and phase out completely by 2030.
Fund Māori community energy projects.
No new coal mining permits and a phase out of industrial coal burning by 2030.
Establish a national Māori strategy for renewable energy.

Labour Party

Move the 100% renewable electricity target forward by five years to 2030.

Funding to investigate pumped hydro storage and green hydrogen.
Ban on new thermal electricity plants and new coal boilers for industrial heat.
Funding for clean energy projects through the Covid Recovery Fund.
Continue the policy of replacing coal heaters with clean energy in schools.
Support businesses to replace coal and gas with clean energy.
Remove barriers to clean energy development (rules and regulations).
Read our response to the Labour Party’s energy policy announcement here.

National Party

Repealing the ban on oil and gas exploration.
National Party would throw fuel on the fire as the world burns

Act Party

Repealing the ban on oil and gas exploration.

NZ First Party

No policy yet announced

 

Dealing with Plastic Waste

Less than 10 percent of all the plastic that’s ever been produced in the world has been recycled. The rest has ended up in landfills or in the oceans, where it’s choking wildlife or even turning up on our plates in sea salt and seafood. A whole rubbish truck worth of plastic gets dumped into the ocean every minute. The next Government needs to turn off the tap of single-use plastics that are flooding our world. A great first step would be:

  1. Banning all plastic bottles (just like we banned plastic bags).
  2. Introducing a system for collection, sterilisation and refill of reusable beverage containers.
  3. End pointless plastics with a Plastic Action Plan.

So what have our political parties committed to?

Green Party

Establish a container return scheme for beverage containers.

Replace low-grade plastics with re-usable alternatives.

Improve local recycling and increase funding for waste minimisation.

NZ First Party

No policy yet announced

Act Party

No policy yet announced

Labour Party

No policy yet announced

Māori Party

No policy yet announced

National Party

No policy yet announced

How do we put climate change and the environment at the top of the agenda this election?

We’ve still got five weeks to go until Election Day on October 17. That’s plenty of time to push our political parties to back the bold policies we need to protect nature and deal with the climate crisis. Use our simple tool to send a message to political party leaders, letting them know what policies you want to see this election.