Jacinda Ardern defends decision to declare a climate change emergency in Parliament

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is defending her decision to announce a climate emergency this week after it drew criticism from Opposition leaders as a "PR stunt".

Ardern's office confirmed last week she would introduce a Government motion to declare a climate emergency on Wednesday.

A motion by the Green party for an emergency to be declared was previously shot down after being vetoed by NZ First.

But Ardern says now is the right time to act on the matter.

"We weren't in the position to do it last term," she told The AM Show. "This is our first opportunity now that Parliament and the regular sitting sessions of Parliament are back."

The decision to declare a climate emergency is about showing it's an important part of the Government's agenda, Ardern said.

"We don't want to see the ongoing impacts of climate on coastal erosion, the impact on people's homes, [and] on Government assets. We do need to keep taking action to fulfill our responsibilities."

Ardern admitted the declaration of an emergency needed to be followed up with action by the Government.

Jacinda Ardern.
Jacinda Ardern. Photo credit: Newshub.

She said New Zealanders would continue to see the Government make progress on climate change.

"You will keep seeing us, of course, making that progress of banning, for instance, the use of thermal baseload generation, we've got our goal to get to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030, [and] we want to stop using coal boilers to generate energy - and on and on it goes."

ACT leader David Seymour described the climate emergency declaration as a "PR stunt". 

"This is a marketing stunt that won't stop one tonne of emissions. If you've got a policy, you don't need to declare an emergency."

New Zealand would join the UK, Canada, Ireland, and France by declaring a climate emergency.