15 Mar 2023

Group appeals to MPs for urgent action to reduce climate change impact

5:00 pm on 15 March 2023
James Renwick and Sophie Handford

Climate scientist James Renwick and Kāpiti Coast district councillor Sophie Handford are among those wanting reforms. Photo: Supplied / RNZ / Angus Dreaver

A group of climate scientists and other notables are calling for the general election to be a "climate election".

They have sent an open letter to all members of Parliament today saying the recent fatal and destructive weather events showed the need to act urgently.

The group, ranging in age from 12 to 105 call themselves the Intergenerational Climate Ambassadors.

It includes climate experts James Renwick and Jim Salinger; UN climate report author Bronwyn Hayward; academics Sir Lloyd Geering and Sir Alan Mark; and actress Lucy Lawless.

School Strikes 4 Climate NZ and Kāpiti Coast district councillor Sophie Handford is a member, as is Mātauranga Māori scholar Mariah Montagnani.

They said in their letter it would be a mistake to emerge from the cyclone clinging to the past and that business as usual was not an option.

Tens of thousands of people have hit the streets demanding greater action on climate, they wrote.

"Future generations are relying on us to act, urgently and transformational.

"We happen to be alive in the window of time when we need to have addressed the climate crisis before it becomes overwhelming. This presents an enormous responsibility but also an enormous opportunity."

Wellington Climate Strike 3 March

Students rally for climate action in Wellington on 3 March. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

They outlined a series of policy requests including requiring emissions reductions from all infrastructure projects, and expanding public transport and building housing alongside it.

They said Māori knowledge needed to be at the forefront of the response to climate change, and for more emphasis to be given to participatory democracy.

The group called for more green spaces in cities to absorb excess rainwater, and said houses should not be built in flood prone areas.

Agricultural practices needed to be adapted to the changing climate and be more in tune with natural processes, forestry and felling operations needed to change, as did fishing quotas.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs