Climate change – it’s bigger than politics
New Zealand’s youngsters are stepping up to do what should have been done 30 years ago – take real action on climate change.
The youth climate action group Generation Zero – supported by Forest & Bird and others – is launching the Zero Carbon Act, a piece of draft legislation making it compulsory for future governments to make New Zealand carbon-neutral by 2050.
The Government would have to set five-yearly carbon budgets in line with achieving the 2050 target. The targets would be overseen by an independent group of experts known as the climate commission, which would report to Parliament.
It’s not surprising that it’s the younger generation leading the way, because for every year we delay cutting emissions, the job gets harder for them.
The world has been trying for nearly 30 years to agree on emissions cuts that will prevent catastrophic global warming. Scientists have warned that we must get to zero net-emissions (that’s the total or gross amount of emissions a year, minus the carbon stored in trees and soils) by shortly after 2050 if we are to have even a two-thirds chance of keeping warming below 2 degrees.
The Paris Agreement of 2015 – which New Zealand, along with most other countries, has signed and ratified – aims to meet that 2 degree goal.
But actions speak louder than words, and the emissions pledge and emissions reductions plan we have made so far are more in line with global warming of around 4 degrees.
Generation Zero isn’t the only organisation to say we need to make a clear commitment to the kind of emissions cuts we really need to make, but it is the first to take the idea to the people in a non-partisan way.
As part of the campaign, Generation Zero is asking all New Zealanders to sign a petition asking the next Parliament to make the Zero Carbon Act law.
Forest & Bird is supporting the Zero Carbon Act and the petition, because cutting emissions is the most effective thing we can do to reduce the impact of climate change on nature.
Already, New Zealand’s natural environment is being affected by climate change. The major flooding that has hit the country over the past month not only affects people, but also destroys the homes and habitats of native species.
We’d like to think we can trust that our politicians are taking this seriously, and there are signs that they are starting to listen, with Parliament due to this week debate a report on how New Zealand can actually go about cutting emissions.
But, politicians being what they are, we suspect it’s best to make sure they know that this is what the country wants them to do.
Generation Zero is hoping that every party contesting this year’s general election will put politics aside on this issue and make a commitment to supporting the Zero Carbon Act.
Because the longer we leave it, the harder it’s going to be, and as Zero Carbon Act spokesperson Lisa McLaren says, climate change is bigger than politics.