Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick leaps to Julie Anne Genter's defence after her pregnancy likened to 'environmental disaster'

Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick has leapt to the defence of her pregnant colleague, shutting down the "nonsense argument" having kids is environmentally irresponsible. 

Swarbrick's comments came after she congratulated Green MP Julie Anne Genter in a Facebook post on Monday on the announcement of her second pregnancy

In the comment section, Swarbrick took issue with a seemingly sarcastic suggestion that having more children is counterproductive to the Green Party's environmental advocacy. 

"Another child? Well that's an environmental disaster. Totally irresponsible," the comment said, followed by a wink-face emoji. 

Swarbrick responded to the comment saying while she suspected it was an "attempt at humour", she felt the need to "unpack this nonsense argument on the off chance it becomes more cemented".

Swarbrick said the suggestion having kids is environmentally irresponsible is often pushed by "wealthy advocates" and only serves to help with "moral high-horsing", doing nothing to address the threat climate change poses. 

"The poorest contribute the least climate-changing emissions, but are also going to be hit the first and worst by the impacts of it. The wealthy will continue to have the resources to move up the proverbial hill as the proverbial (and literal) waters rise.

"That's why a just transition (climate, social and economic) is fundamental if we're ever to turn this around. Lamenting minute individual choices inside of a system that exacerbates inequality and drives global warming is going to leave us bickering as the water rises around our ankles, all so some can feel morally superior while the world burns."

Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick leaps to Julie Anne Genter's defence after her pregnancy likened to 'environmental disaster'
Photo credit: Facebook / Screenshot

The ethics of having children in a warming world have been raised by high-profile environmental advocates like US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and groups like Birth Strikers, a movement of women who have decided not to procreate in response to the climate threat

Ocasio-Cortez addressed the issue in a 2019 Instagram Live. 

"Basically, there's a scientific consensus that the lives of children are going to be very difficult. And it does lead, I think, young people to have a legitimate question: Is it okay to still have children?"

A 2009 study of the relationship between population growth and global warming found that each child born in the United States adds about 9441 metric tons of carbon dioxide to the carbon legacy of an average parent.

The study concludes, "Clearly, the potential savings from reduced reproduction are huge compared to the savings that can be achieved by changes in lifestyle."

Swarbrick provided a link in her Facebook comment to an article by Vox that argues against the theory that having fewer kids will save the planet. 

The article points to a report by Founders Pledge, which says studies claiming to show that having a child contributes to carbon emissions, don't take into account advances in clean tech and governments taking climate action. 

New Zealand, for example, is legally required to get to net-zero emissions by 2050, under the Zero Carbon Act passed in 2019. The same goes for the UK, where the sale of pollution-heavy cars will also be banned as of 2035. 

New Zealand has a long way to go. The latest inventory of greenhouse gases showed that between 1990 and 2019, gross emissions increased by 26 percent, mostly due to increases in methane from dairy cattle digestive systems and road transport. 

Climate Change Minister James Shaw will next Wednesday reveal the Climate Change Commission's final advice to the Government on how it can meet its Zero Carbon Act targets. 

By December, the Government must have set three emissions budgets out to 2035 and released its first emissions reduction plan. If it chooses not to accept the Climate Change Commission's advice, it must publish an alternative plan.