Future New Zealanders will pay for our environment neglect

Venkat Raman

The National Government’s neglect of environmental issues will cost future generations dearly unless corrective action is taken immediately, Green Party Co-Leader James Shaw has said.

“New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions have risen 19% since 2008. That is a stark betrayal of today’s young people, and of future generations. It is beyond negligent. It should be criminal,” he said.

Mr Shaw was speaking at the Green Party’s Annual General Meeting and Party Conference held at Paul Reeves Building at AUT University in Auckland on Saturday, July 15, 2017.

He said that although the Government says that New Zealand is a small player and that we account for less than 1% of global emissions.

Irresponsible government

“But if you added up all the countries that each account for less than 1% of global emissions, together they add up to 23% of total global emissions – much more than the United States and nearly as much as China. New Zealand has the fifth highest per capita emissions in the OECD. We outstrip virtually every other industrialised nation. Being small does not absolve us of responsibility. Being wealthy increases our responsibility.

Of those to whom much is given, much is expected,” he said.

Mr Shaw committed that if his Party was a part of the next government, he would ensure that New Zealand becomes a ‘Zero-Carbon Economy’ by 2050.

Dr Graham’s Group

Citing the works of his Party colleague Dr Kennedy Graham, Mr Shaw said that he had established an informal, cross-Parliament, all-party group of 36 MPs, which commissioned a report outlining a set of possible pathways and timeframes for New Zealand to get to a net-zero carbon economy.

“What is most significant is that this report found that it is both technically and economically possible for New Zealand to achieve carbon-neutrality by the year 2050,” he said.

Mr Shaw called people who are oblivious to climate change and those who lack ambition on the issue, “the greatest threat to our collective prosperity and our national security.”

While New Zealand has suffered nine years of inaction on the climate, the low carbon economy is taking shape overseas. 2015 was the first year that more clean energy infrastructure was built than new fossil fuel energy. Last year, solar and wind power became the same price or cheaper than fossil fuels in more than 30 countries and the price continues to fall,” he said.

Spending on others

Mr Shaw accused the National government of ‘doing nothing for the country,’ while being extravagant overseas.

“Over the next ten years, New Zealand will send $1 billion a year to other countries to build their low-carbon economies and competitive advantages, and not our own. The Green Party wants to invest that money here in New Zealand. We want New Zealand to be one of the first truly sustainable economies in the world, and to show the rest of the world how it’s done. And we’ll start by building the infrastructure that’s needed for a low-carbon economy,” he said.

The Infrastructure Fund

Mr Shaw said that his Party in government will establish a ‘Green Infrastructure Fund’ to accelerate New Zealand’s transition to a greener economy.

The Green Infrastructure Fund will be the Kiwibank of the green economy, he said.

“The Fund will help redirect billions of dollars of funding into new renewable energy plants, especially geothermal plants; Solar panel and waste heat installations; Energy efficient building and housing materials and retrofits; The production of commercial volumes of biofuels; and Other clean technology projects.

“We expect the Fund to secure average returns of around 7-8 percent per year – but more importantly, to reduce New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions by a million tonnes a year,” Mr Shaw said.

Hundreds of Green Party Members and supporters attended the two-day Conference held on July 15 and July 16, 2017. Mr Shaw’s full speech appeared in our Web Edition yesterday (July 15, 2017).

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Photo Caption:

  1. James Shaw speaking at the Conference
  2. Some of the delegates at the Conference
  3. Green Party Co-Leaders Metiria Turei and James Shaw at Meet the Press

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