28 May 2022

New Zealand signs partnership with California on climate change

2:16 pm on 28 May 2022

New Zealand has formed a partnership deal to work together with California on climate change.


The Memorandum of Cooperation was signed in San Francisco during a meeting between Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and California governor Gavin Newsom during Ardern's official visit to the United States.

It formalises cooperation in efforts to reduce emissions by sharing information, experiences and research, and paves the way for New Zealand and California to work together on projects that could benefit the environment.

"As the fifth largest economy in the world, California will be a significant player in the global low-emissions transition and an important partner in our efforts," Ardern said.

"We each have comparable broad-based plans to emissions reduction, and know it will take every sectors of our economies playing their part. We both aim to achieve net zero carbon emissions by the middle of the century.

The climate agreement reflects the two places' long-held shared values, Ardern said, and she noted both places had been represented at the founding of the United Nations in San Francisco, in 1945.

"That desire for us to identify a challenge, and not just meet it, but push further, harder, faster, is still what both California and New Zealand are still trying to do when it comes to the crisis of climate change.

"Taking action on climate will secure our environment and our economy, so it makes sense to partner with allies in this shared problem."

Transport clean-up a focus to cut emissions

Both California and New Zealand are tackling difficult challenges in trying to reduce emissions and environmental impacts from transport and agriculture, Ardern said.

"As a result we both have ambitious policies for zero-emission transportation on land and sea, energy innovation, clean power generation, nature-based solutions and zero waste initiatives.

"The agreement provides a framework for cooperation across a range of sectors including on zero emissions vehicles, energy storage and smart grids, emissions trading schemes, and climate smart agriculture."

New Zealand is trying to be a world leader in sustainable agriculture, but needs help to clean up its transport emissions, she said.

California has committed to no new fossil fuel cars, while New Zealand has not.

Ardern said transport is California's biggest source of emissions but New Zealand's is food production. Transport is New Zealand's second highest source of emissions.

She said the government's plan for at least 30 percent of the national fleet to be electric vehicles (EVs) by 2035 means a source is needed for those vehicles.

"So we had a long conversation today about the kind of partnerships that we could form to try to overcome some of those supply issues we have in New Zealand."

She also anticipates sharing notes on California's Cash for Clunkers scheme, which is similar to the recently announced Clean Car Upgrade announced by the government.

Technologies and global cooperation are key to emissions reductions - Shaw

Minister for Climate Change James Shaw said the deal would help strengthen New Zealand's ambitions set out in the government's Emissions Reduction Plan released earlier this month.

"International engagement, like this agreement with California, will play a key role in driving domestic decarbonisation and achieving our climate targets.

"Just as New Zealand will need access to new technologies, New Zealand businesses will find new opportunities in a net-zero world and this agreement also unlocks the potential for private sector innovation and collaboration.

"In Aotearoa New Zealand we intend to continue leading by example, but the fight against climate change is a truly global effort, and only through cooperation will we deliver our shared goals and build a safer, better future for everyone," he said.

One of the towers of Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California.

The new deal between California and New Zealand was signed in San Francisco. Photo: 123rf

Newsom notes Ardern's international leadership

Speaking at the signing, California's governor Gavin Newsom said he was excited to formalise the partnership between the two places, and to meet Ardern.

He said her handling of the aftermath of the Christchurch mosque attacks had made an impact globally.

Ardern has been outspoken internationally on the use of social media in terrorism, and on gun controls.

"People that truly step up meet a moment head-on," Newsom said.

"So after Christchurch that was self-evident, but it wasn't just Christchurch - in the aftermath, what the Prime Minister did on a series of issues - so for me this is an opportunity for me to say thank you for your leadership."

Newsom said the new climate agreement will accelerate both New Zealand and California's efforts to have net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

NZ Wool firms sign up with tech platform Actual

The day's line-up included Ardern and Newsom witnessing the inking of a partnership to promote the use of a US tech tool to enhance sustainability and reduce environmental footprints for a group of New Zealand firms and growers.

The partnership was struck between the New Zealand Merino Company's ZQRX programme - a group of brands and growers that have pledged to give back to the environment - and Actual, a California tech company whose platform was designed to help companies integrate their environmental, social and governance goals into their work.

NZ Merino chief executive John Brakenridge said the partnership is part of its efforts "to reimagine the future of conscious consumerism and create products that are 'made for good'," with the hope of sparking new approaches to agricultural practices worldwide.

The ZQRX-Actual deal includes growers on more than 2 million hectares of land, and will add to "tangible action plans" to benefit the environment by ZQRX brand partners like Smartwool, Allbirds, Icebreaker and Reda, he said.

Ardern said businesses must play their part in work toward reducing climate change, and the partnership with California provides fertile ground to help foster these efforts.

"The signing of this agreement between ZQRX and Actual is exactly the type of innovation we hope to see from the Memorandum of Cooperation, with two organizations from each respective nation, paving the way as change makers and innovators within the sustainability space."

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