Environmental groups demand immediate climate action, call on political parties to work together

More than 30 environmental groups have come together and thrown down the gauntlet to all of Aotearoa's political parties, calling for urgent climate action with a 10-point plan. 

The plan is calling for an immediate reduction of emissions, restoration of native environments and better support for communities dealing with the worst impacts of climate change. 

Greenpeace executive director Russell Norman told AM the crisis has reached a critical point and polluting industries such as the dairy sector need to stop avoiding regulation.

"Agriculture is half of all of our emissions and there's been precious little done to cut emissions out of that sector."

Norman told AM recent devastating weather events have been made worse by climate change, and is urging the government to act now. 

"We need action by the New Zealand Government to play its part in terms of cutting emissions globally. And so this lays out a pathway to do that."

Norman said now is the time to regulate polluting industries because "when has the polluting industry voluntarily agreed to cut its pollution? It never happens. Never has happened in the history of the world".

"The only way you get progress to deal with pollution is you regulate."

The coalition includes the likes of Greenpeace, Forest and Bird, Oxfam and 350 Aotearoa.

The 10-point plan: 

  • End new oil, gas and coal exploration and extraction on land and at sea, and commit to the Port Vila Call for a Just Transition to a Fossil Fuel-Free Pacific.
  • Accelerate the just transition to public and locally-owned, nature-friendly, renewable electricity, including by providing grants-based and equitable finance for new renewables, such as household solar and community energy projects.
  • Transition towards high-density, low emissions communities by making public transport fares free and prioritising investment in walking, cycling, and accessible public transport infrastructure over road spending.
  • Transition intensive dairying to low-emissions farming by phasing out synthetic nitrogen fertiliser and imported animal feed, reducing herd size, and banning new large-scale irrigation schemes.
  • Ensure our laws reflect the urgency required to address the climate crisis by strengthening the Emissions Trading Scheme, legally requiring all local and central government decisions to keep warming below 1.5 degrees celsius, and establishing meaningful environmental bottom lines in new planning rules.
  • Protect communities by making room for rivers to flood safely and enabling a managed retreat from flood-prone areas, through stopping new development in coastal and river flood zones.
  • Stand with affected communities in the Pacific by renewing and scaling up our climate finance commitments, with new and additional funding to address loss and damage caused by climate change.
  • Maximise native forests’ role in absorbing carbon and in protecting communities from flooding and erosion by effectively controlling deer, goats, and possums on all public land, and implementing a native reforestation programme.
  • Preserve the ocean's crucial role in storing carbon by shifting to ecosystem-based fisheries management that ends bottom trawling and restores kelp forests by reversing all kina barrens.
  • Protect the role wetlands and estuaries play in storing carbon and softening extreme weather event impacts by doubling the area of wetlands in Aotearoa New Zealand.

As election 2023 edges closer, Norman says the 10-point plan is to put pressure on Labour and National to act if either is elected.

"There is [an] opportunity to make progress with those two parties. It's just we need to keep the pressure on them. And then of course, then there's the influence of other parties as well, which could change the agenda."

Watch Norman's interview above for more.