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Nature First Climate Plan

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Submission on the Government’s Emissions Reduction Plan consultation

To Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, 

I feel frustrated. You have called climate change your generation’s ‘nuclear-free moment’, but the Government's document about an Emissions Reduction Plan to tackle climate change has huge holes in it.

The Government has said nature-based solutions are a priority but doesn’t seem to know what they are.

Our forests are vital carbon sinks, as well as home to many thousands of unique native species, but they are being destroyed by browsing mammals. Please champion an all-of-government plan to urgently expand browsing pest control including for feral deer, pigs, and goats.

There are other important nature-based ways to protect our climate too. The forests, waterways, and oceans of Aotearoa could help keep climate warming to safe levels with nature-based solutions that are practical, achievable, and can help us solve the climate and biodiversity crises together.

I ask that you put nature at the heart of New Zealand’s climate response:

  • Expand browsing animal and browsing pest control: Controlling browsing pests could offset up to 15% of New Zealand’s net emissions, as well as preventing new plantings from being destroyed. Possums, feral deer, goats, and pigs should be controlled on all public land.
  • Protect and restore existing carbon sinks: The huge amount of carbon stored in our forest, wetland, and ocean habitats should be safeguarded by policies including an end to bottom trawling, mangroves protection, rewetting peatlands, and banning all future wetland destruction.
  • Incentivise native habitat restoration: Support should be offered to New Zealanders to plant new native forests and restore wetlands to store carbon, stop erosion, and provide habitat for birds. The National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity needs to be finished to prevent destruction of forests and wetlands too.
  • Put agriculture in the Emissions Trading Scheme: New Zealand’s largest source of emissions needs strong incentives to act on climate change. Reduced irrigation and fertiliser use, smaller herd sizes, and the retirement of marginal land will also help clean up our rivers and protect communities from floods.
  • Stop new coal mines: We need to rapidly decarbonise our energy systems. New coal mines need to be stopped now, to avoid locking in high greenhouse gas emissions for decades to come.
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