New Zealand declared a climate emergency on Wednesday, and committed to a carbon-neutral government by 2025. The announcement is a significant move in the midst of a health crisis and natural disasters affecting the world.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the important declaration was based on the findings made by Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change.
The study reveals that to avoid a more than 1.5 degree Celsius rise in global warming, emissions would need to be reach zero by around 2050.
A motion tabled in parliament recognized the devastating impact that volatile and extreme weather will have on New Zealand. Extreme environmental damage poses threat to its citizens, primary industries, water availability and public health through flooding, sea level rise and wildfire.
“This declaration is an acknowledgement of the next generation. An acknowledgement of the burden that they will carry if we do not get this right and do not take action now,” Ardern said.
Before New Zealand, 32 nations have already formally acknowledged the global crisis by declaring a climate emergency.
“It is up to us to make sure we demonstrate a plan for action, and a reason for hope,” said Ardern.
Walking the talk
To make this possible, New Zealand will require the use of only electric or hybrid vehicles for all of its government branches.
The fleet will also be reduced over time by 20 percent and all 200 coal-fired boilers used in public service’s buildings will be phased out.
New Zealand will allocate NZ$200 million to finance the replacement of coal boilers and help purchase electric or hybrid vehicles.
During her first term, Prime Minister Ardern already passed a Zero Carbon Bill. The bill sets framework for net zero emissions by 2050 with an exemption for farming, and banned new offshore oil and gas exploration.
New Zealand contributes 0.17 percent of global emissions but that is high for its size. Its net emissions have risen by 60% in the past two decades.
The country’s biggest source of CO2 emissions is road transport but most greenhouse gases stem from agriculture.