Forest & Bird today warned that placing the climate change and environment portfolios outside of cabinet is a big risk when New Zealand’s trade with Europe hinges on climate action, Fonterra’s biggest customer is demanding climate action, and communities are waking up to the impact and significant cost of extreme weather events like Cyclone Gabrielle and the Auckland floods.
Nicola Toki, Chief Executive of Forest & Bird, says, “New Zealanders care deeply about our unique natural heritage. It is a key defining characteristic of our national identity and the cornerstone of our international brand. We rely on both our natural assets and a stable climate to provide resilience for our homes, communities, economy, yet our threatened species and ecosystems are in significant decline, and we have the dubious honour of being known as the ‘extinction capital of the world."
The direction signalled today by the coalition agreement, suggests that yet another government has not understood how to treat our nature-based assets as an investment and not a cost. As such, our native species and ecosystems will continue to decline rapidly, while the opportunity of investing thriving natural assets to protect our community for climate change impacts, is lost.
The Government is going to struggle to deal with addressing these issues when the pest promotion (hunting) portfolio is higher than the conservation, environment, lands and climate change portfolios.
“The environment is our economy. New Zealand faces massive decisions over the next few years over how we protect communities from the impacts of climate change and pay for managed retreat from flood prone areas. Nature-based solutions to climate change will need to be at the core of the new government’s agenda or the taxpayer will be forced to cough up significant money," Ms Toki says.
"Our country could also face a bill of between $3.3b and more than $23b by 2030 in what may prove to be a volatile international carbon market unless the country accelerates efforts to tackle climate change and the portfolio that has the job to dealing with this isn’t even in Cabinet.
“We’ll be looking forward for reassurance from Christopher Luxon over how the new government is going to deliver on New Zealand’s climate change commitments and protect and restore nature."