New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern has declared a climate change emergency and launched a major new initiative which requires the public sector to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025.
The programme is backed by the State Sector Decarbonisation Fund that will finance the replacement of public sector coal boilers and support the immediate purchase of electric or hybrid vehicles to start replacing the Government’s petrol car fleet.
“Requiring the public sector to be carbon neutral within 5 year highlights the Government’s commitment to leadership on climate change and the urgency of the action required,” Prime Minister Ardern said. “Government agencies will have to measure and reduce their emissions and offset what they can’t in order to achieve carbon neutrality. It’s an important step forward in our plan for New Zealand to be carbon neutral by 2050.”
According to her, the public sector needs to be an exemplar that sets the standard we all need and a call to action for the private sector.
“Action on climate change is a priority for the Labour Government and is an integral part of our Covid recovery plan,” she continued. “We need to seize the advantages of a climate focused recovery and the economic prosperity such a strategy offers.”
According to data published by the Minister of Environment, gross greenhouse gas emissions in 2018 were 24 per cent higher than 1990 and 1 per cent lower than 2017. Carbon dioxide emissions were mainly produced by transport (47.0 per cent), manufacturing industries and construction (17.9 per cent) and public electricity and heat production (9.4 per cent). Therefore, as the Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash pointed out, there is room for improvement.
“According to the world’s leading scientists we have just over nine years left to cut carbon emissions in half,” added Minister of Climate Change, James Shaw. “This new initiative shows that the Government is equal to the challenge ahead.”
In its first term, the Government put in place one of the world’s most ambitious frameworks for reducing emissions, including becoming one of the only countries in the world to put in place a legally binding requirement to stay within the threshold of 1.5 degrees of global warming above pre-industrial levels.
“Now we intend to lead by example by measuring and reporting emissions across Government, upgrading to cleaner sources of energy, cutting emissions from transport and improving the efficiency of our buildings,” Minister Shaw continued.
Next year, the Government will agree the first three emissions budgets required under the Zero Carbon Act, publish an emissions reduction plan to meet these budgets, consider updating New Zealand’s target under the Paris Agreement and adopt a plan to meet our international obligations for the period 2021-2030.
Photo: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Facebook profile.