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The massive holes in the Government's climate change discussion document show Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern needs to tell ministers to get on with it, says Forest & Bird.   

“This Government has declared a climate emergency, but it is not acting like it,” says Forest & Bird Chief Executive Kevin Hague.  

“Successive Governments have wasted thirty years in half measures and delay, and we are now seeing the effects of climate change with storms, droughts, warming seas and changing weather. Years of procrastination are catching up with us. 

"It’s remarkable that the Government has published over thirty pages of thinking and analysis on transport but only four pages on agriculture, our biggest source of emissions," adds Mr Hague. 

“It’s time to bite the bullet and put agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). 

“The lack of clear policy suggestions on agriculture, energy and nature-based solutions suggests some agencies still haven't got the message that New Zealand is committed to tackling climate change.” 

The major gaps in Te hau mārohi ki anamata/Transitioning to a low emissions and climate resilient future that need to be filled include: 

  • clear proposals to encourage native forest planting and restoration on private land in line with the He Pou a Rangi/Climate Change Commission’s recommendations 

  • a programme to protect and restore all remaining wetlands in line with the recommendation of the Climate Change Commission 

  • a ban on new coal mines and policies to promote renewable generation 

  • a commitment to put agriculture into the ETS  

  • a programme of nationwide pest control  

  • a plan to protect blue carbon by protecting mangroves, restoring shellfish and kelp beds and by ending bottom trawling 

“This Government has said it wants nature-based solutions but offers no policy suggestions for how to save our massive natural carbon stocks in forests, wetlands and the sea,” says Mr Hague.  

“We know there are practical and achievable solutions that will help us solve the climate and biodiversity crises together.” 

Forest & Bird has been calling for increased pest control of browsing mammals to help our natural ecosystems store carbon.  

“Other actions the Government could take right now, but are not mentioned in the consultation document, include restoring peat wetlands and protecting blue carbon by ending practices such as bottom trawling,” says Mr Hague. 

“Tangible policy options are also missing in action for the energy sector. Without greater certainty, the nature-friendly renewable generation New Zealand needs won’t be built and Huntly will keep burning coal.

“In some cases, Government agencies are actively working against addressing the climate crisis.  

“For example, the Climate Change Commission recommended preventing loss of carbon by stopping wetland destruction – but the Ministry for the Environment is currently consulting on a proposal to allow new coal mines to destroy more wetlands.” 

“Ministers need to step up and offer concrete policy suggestions on how to reduce agricultural emissions, stop new coal mines and protect and restore forests, wetlands and blue carbon. 

“Nature must be at the heart of New Zealand’s climate response.” 

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