Insults fly at Zero Carbon Bill reading as MP takes shot at 'obnoxious' Shane Jones

The Zero Carbon Bill's second reading in Parliament became heated as National MP Erica Stanford described Cabinet Minister Shane Jones as "obnoxious". 

Stanford, MP for East Coast Bays, stood in Parliament to say "contrary to the views on the other side of the House... National are concerned about climate change". 

She said National understands the "urgency of the world to come together to combat what is probably one of the, if not the most, significant issues of our time". 

But Stanford was interrupted by Jones, a Cabinet Minister and New Zealand First MP, as she talked about how National had signed New Zealand up to the Paris Agreement in 2016. 

Jones yelled out that National had "sold out the farmers" in Paris. 

Stanford responded: "That member continually bellowing nonsense from the other side of the House should perhaps consider the amount of carbon dioxide spewing out of his mouth with every single obnoxious comment."

She said Jones should "perhaps consider the effect of his own global warming, and perhaps shut it for five minutes and listen to this young woman who has something to say". 

The National MP is a member of the parliamentary Environment Committee, alongside Green MP Chloe Swarbrick, who also hit back at a heckler during the legislation's second reading. 

Swarbrick had been talking about how for decades world leaders have "known what is coming but have decided that it is more politically expedient to keep it behind closed doors". 

The 25-year-old MP said her generation and the generations after "do not have that luxury". 

"In the year 2050 I will be 56 years old, yet right now, the average age of this 52nd Parliament is 49 years old."

The unnamed heckler said "that's impossible". 

"OK, Boomer," Swarbrick replied, referring to the Baby Boomer generation defined as those born between 1946 and 1964.

Swarbrick's comment was widely shared on social media, particularly after it was revealed Parliament TV had captioned her comment as "OK, Berma."

The debate became heated again when New Zealand First was accused of trying to "derail" consensus between the Government and the Opposition.  

Todd Muller, National's former climate change spokesperson, blamed New Zealand First for "random, pock-marked, irrelevant-at-times, highly partisan political contributions". 

He said he and Climate Change Minister James Shaw had reached consensus around the Climate Change Commission being advisory, and about the importance of ensuring that economic impacts were considered. 

"These were fair points. They were robust debates. As we know, it stopped on the insistence of New Zealand First," Muller told Parliament. 

"I will not stand here and be lectured and yelled at by Shane Jones, in terms of his contribution to this debate, because he gives voice to an element which has looked at every opportunity for a partisan point and an opportunity to erode the consensus that actually can exist."

Jones responded, "New Zealand First leading the way."

New Zealand First MP Jenny Marcroft, also a member of the Environment Committee, said the party "acknowledge" that the last National-led Government recognised climate change by signing up to the Paris Agreement. 

But she said National "tinkered around the edges, taking a few tiny steps, so we're really pleased now that we're getting down to business and therefore no longer will the status quo be sufficient for us". 

Marcroft said that became "untenable", so New Zealand First sought within its coalition agreement with Labour "the creation of an independent Climate Change Commission and also the introduction of the Zero Carbon Bill". 

Introducing a Zero Carbon Act and an independent Climate Commission, based on the recommendations of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, is listed in the coalition agreement.

The legislation's second reading passed on Tuesday, with ACT leader David Seymour the only MP to oppose it. 

He said he opposed the Bill because it "gives unfettered power to the Climate Change Minister over the economy". 

National supports the idea of an independent commission that would advise governments on how to meet a set of targets set in law which would be zero net emission by 2050. 

But it opposes the current Bill's methane reduction target of between 24 and 47 per cent of methane emissions by 2050.

Simon Bridges said on Tuesday: "You can expect to see us seek amendments in the committee of the whole stage, [and] then we will make a decision."