23 Jul 2019

Jacinda Ardern supports, does not commit to 'climate emergency' declaration

9:57 am on 23 July 2019

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has stopped short of committing to a declaration of climate emergency in Parliament, despite again saying she supports such a move.

Prime MInister Jacinda Ardern at Parliament 21 May 2019.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Ms Ardern was asked on Morning Report if New Zealand was in a climate emergency.

"I think the world's in a climate emergency," she said.

Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick in May sought a motion for Parliament to declare a climate emergency - without debate, and without giving notice to fellow MPs. Objection was raised, however, and the motion failed.

Ms Ardern said, as she has before, that she did support it, "but we need to be clear here though, a declaration in Parliament in itself actually doesn't functionally change what's being done on the ground".

"This is something I've talked with the minister about, you know, this is not just unique to New Zealand. We're in, I think, a situation where we need the entire international community.

"A declaration, I think, is an acknowledgement ... of the Parliament, that we see this as an international issue that we're committed to, but ultimately the thing that's going to make a difference is the work we're doing on the Zero Carbon Act, on transport and so on."

Challenged on whether the government was doing enough to match its rhetoric, she said that was the whole point of the zero carbon legislation.

"Is to bring in that independent voice who can look at our aspirations, look at the goals we're setting ourselves and then say to us 'this is what your carbon budget need to look like to get there' so that you won't have to rely on us to say 'we're being ambitious enough' - we'll have others who will say whether or not we're being ambitious enough.

"That's what we're trying to put through Parliament at the moment."

She suggested a lack of progress internationally and in the past was also slowing the government down.

"We are entering into areas where ... the work hasn't been done [before], so we would be among the first to have a fully integrated emissions trading scheme, or a fully integrated look across our primary productive sector.

"The important thing I think is that we have set ourselves a target of warming under 1.5 degrees. We're now looking at our transport sector when that hasn't been done to date, we're now bringing in our production sector when that hasn't been done to date - these are firsts, but we're doing it in a way that I hope brings people with us.

"You might say that you don't think the dollar value's enough, others are saying it's too much, the truth lies somewhere in the middle."

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