Big step up on New Zealand climate plan to meet Paris agreement
Forest & Bird welcomes the Paris Climate Agreement. cIt sets in place strong goals that will be impossible to ignore. Central to the agreement is a commitment by 196 countries to keep global warming well below 2 degrees and to aim for no more than 1.5 degrees warming. This means the end for fossil fuels – its simply impossible to use up the fossil fuel reserves that exist and meet this target. The country needs to start planning a transition away from fossil fuels, including what we will do as a society to assist regions that are currently dependent on what is now a doomed coal industry.
The agreement recognises that current pledges are not enough to reach the goals set in the agreement and calls for the most ambitious targets possible from countries. Having pledged of the least ambitious targets of any country, the Government cannot leave Paris and return to business as usual in New Zealand. Nor can the Government sign up to a commitment to keep global warming well below 2 degrees and not dramatically increase the country’s own efforts.
Paula Bennett, the incoming climate change minister, has a lot of work to do. Failure to step up now would be tantamount to telling our trading partners that yes there is a massive problem called global warming, but we aren’t interested in being part of the solution.
New Zealand’s current pledge, called an Intended Nationally Determined Contribution, has been rated as inadequate by every independent assessment. Under the agreement sign in Paris the Government will be under pressure in 2018 and 2023 to increase this pledge so the sooner we start the better.
The agreement also recognises the role forests play as sinks and reservoirs of carbon. It recognises the value of forest conservation. The Government will need to step up pest control and other efforts to protect our native forests.
But the biggest message in this agreement is to society as a whole. The Paris Agreement relies on voluntary action by governments. This means we all have a role to play in keeping the Government’s feet to the fire to get the action that’s needed and the Government will need to respect this as the cost of opting for a voluntary agreement. 35000 New Zealanders on the streets on the 28th and 29th November calling for strong action was a great start, but lets build the momentum.
The Paris Agreement is a strong call to get on with it.