Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter has declared climate change "our generation's WWII" in her defence of proposed car price hikes.
Genter, also Minister for Women, made the declaration on Twitter while defending the Government's proposed fees for cars being imported that don't meet a 'clean car' policy tipped for 2021.
Vehicles that emit over 250 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre (CO2/km) would be considered heavy polluters so importing those vehicles would come with a financial penalty of up to $3000.
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On the flip side, new imported vehicles that produce zero emissions - like the Hyundai Ioniq - would be eligible for an $8000 discount, while used zero-emission cars would get $2600 off.
"The climate crisis is the biggest challenge of our time. It's our generation's WWII. We are the first generation to feel its impacts," Genter said.
"New Zealand was too small to win WWII. But that didn't stop many of our forebears from putting their hand up. They put their lives on hold, and travelled far away, to be part of a larger effort, because it was the right thing to do."
Some Twitter users agreed with Genter's comparison, with one user saying: "Climate change and WW2 are very similar. Massive threats to our way of life that requires concerted and substantial action to overcome, including sacrificing lifestyle."
But others weren't convinced. One person wrote: "Not a very well thought out metaphor and bugger-all to do with this current situation and alarmism doesn't help with clarity of thought."
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made a similar generational comparison in 2017, when she declared climate change her "generation's nuclear-free moment."
Genter labelled climate change a "wicked problem" that individuals can't solve alone. She said the proposed standards for cars are a "framework so more people can choose vehicles that use less petrol".
Her tweets followed backlash against the proposals over popular ute vehicles like the Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux becoming more expensive to import to New Zealand.
The Toyota LandCruiser would be $3000 more expensive, the Mitsubishi Triton would jump by $2500, the Ford Ranger would be $2750 more and the Toyota Hilux would increase by $2000.
National's Associate Transport spokesperson Brett Hudson said hiking the cost of certain vehicles will impose more costs on some families who can't afford to switch to an electric vehicle.
Deputy leader Paula Bennett echoed Hudson, telling The AM Show: "Don't mess with my tradies and their utes, man, and don't mess with our farmers - they're out there doing a damn good job."
Glen Burr, president of New Zealand Plumbers, Drainlayers and Gasfitters - who drives a Holden Colorado ute - told Newshub he would be forced to pass the tax onto his customers.
Genter said she spoke with the imported vehicle industry on Wednesday night and "heard their concerns" and also shared her own views with them.
"I understand some people are fearful, or feel that they are being penalised for buying vehicles that would attract a fee," she said on Twitter.
"The fees are small as a percentage of the price of the vehicle. This isn't a penalty - it's how we make the policy work so more people can choose cleaner cars."
She did not respond to Newshub's request on Thursday afternoon for further details about the meeting held with the imported vehicle industry.