Wellington City Councillor Tamatha Paul says MPs acting 'too slow' on climate change, should lose their jobs if they don't move fast

A Wellington City Councillor has called for every MP in Parliament to lose their jobs if they can't - or won't - fix climate change.

But Tamatha Paul doesn't want the responsibility, saying she'd rather "be on the streets telling them to do a better job" than running for a seat herself. 

"If politics is too slow, then we need to get out onto the streets and throw everyone in that House out of there," the 24-year-old told The Hui. 

"You have enough money to solve the problem, you have enough money to provide alternative infrastructure and to give people the choices to make in their everyday lives. 

"Everything we are experiencing is the result of a choice that people are making in that House, and if that system is too slow - like we know it is - to enact the change that we need now, before the end of the decade, then every single one of them should be thrown out and we need to radically change the system."

Paul was responding to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's latest report, described as a "code red" for the globe

The almost 4000-page round-up of the latest scientific research into climate change concluded it was unequivocal that it was being caused by humanity's greenhouse gas emissions, which are still going up despite decades of warnings from scientists. 

Annual carbon emissions have doubled since the 1970s, driving the global temperature up even faster. 

"When I look at other rangatahi around me, I don't think any of us care who does it - we just want climate action now, serious action, because it's actually not good enough from any of the parties," said Paul.

"No one is putting forward anything transformational… I don't think anyone cares who it is that delivers it - it needs to be done now." 

Tamatha Paul.
Tamatha Paul. Photo credit: The Hui

Former NZ First MP Jenny Marcroft, appearing on The Hui with Paul, agreed the political process can be slow - but pointed to the previous Government's Zero Carbon Bill as evidence progress is being made. NZ First was a member of the coalition with Labour that passed the Bill. 

"The only person that opposed that was the ACT Party , so that went through unanimously except for David Seymour… there was unity across the House apart from David Seymour."

That Bill aims to get New Zealand's carbon emissions neutral by 2050, but still allows significant methane emissions. Methane has a much stronger greenhouse effect than carbon dioxide, but doesn't spend as long in the atmosphere. 

New Zealand currently accounts for about 0.2 percent of global emissions, but per capita we generate about 65 percent more than the global average. 

Emissions per capita.
Emissions per capita. Photo credit: Our World in Data

Paul said progress was still too slow, suggesting not just the MPs - but the system they operate in - might need to go. 

"We don't have time to wait for bureaucracy to catch up with the massive destruction that we've caused to the environment, and that our people are living in poverty. If it can't respond, throw it out - [don't] try to make it fit within the system that's caused us all the problems in the first place."

Host Mihingarangi Forbes asked Paul, who was elected to the Wellington City Council in 2019, if she would step up and run for a higher office. 

"No. I'll be on the streets telling them to do a better job. And you know, let's throw them all out if that's not going to happen." 

Paul has previously hinted at running for Mayor of Wellington, saying she's been frustrated at how little power Councillors have "in areas like climate change, housing and transport", and last year made headlines when she called submitters on a proposed housing project "absolute knobs" after she misunderstood the point they were trying to make