To show that they are committed to delivering hope for a positive future for today’s young people, political parties must commit to developing a Zero Carbon Action Plan for New Zealand. We are calling for:
- A plan to achieve zero net emissions in New Zealand before 2050
- A timetable set in legislation to action the plan, with three year milestones
- A plan that emphasises emissions reductions but allows the use of permanent, biodiverse afforestation to meet targets
- A plan that ensures today’s carbon bills get paid today
Mainstream science tells us that levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are already dangerously high. As young people we are at risk of inheriting a planet undergoing catastrophic changes, like the onset of ice sheet collapse, that are beyond our control. NASA’s James Hansen and others have produced strong evidence that to restore a safe and stable climate for our future, we need to bring greenhouse gas concentrations down swiftly from around 390 ppm (parts-per-million) to below 350 ppm. That means kicking fossil fuels and going beyond zero net emissions in our lifetimes.
Climate change is a global problem, and our futures are intertwined with those of every other person alive today. A positive future for us relies on international action. But this cannot be used as an excuse for any one country to hold back. As young New Zealanders, we have to ask ourselves whether we really want to consider a future in which the world continues to wait. New Zealand needs to go zero carbon under any positive scenario.
In order for that to happen we need a Government that will lead from the top by setting a clear strategic direction for our country, and planning to make sure that targets are met. Right now our Government cannot produce evidence that emissions will even be reduced from current levels with all of its policies implemented. A target is useless without a plan to get there.
The consequences of failing to meet a target aren’t just bad for the climate – they’re bad for our wallets. At the moment, the Government is passing the buck for the failure to meet targets to the future. Not only is this an injustice, it allows our country to keep avoiding facing up to the climate crisis and taking the necessary actions. As part of a Zero Carbon Action Plan, this must be addressed. We need to move from the current Emissions Trading Scheme to a carbon pricing scheme that will deliver the necessary emissions cuts and make sure that today’s carbon bills get paid today.