National Climate Change Minister James Shaw said National’s support for the country’s first three emissions budgets underpinned climate action for years to come.
Both Labor and National have committed to a budget that sets a cap on New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions over the next 15 years.
Political parties shared their views on the topic today at a special parliamentary debate recommended by the Climate Change Committee.
Climate Change Minister James Shaw described the budget as “the final piece of the framework” needed to deliver lasting climate action in Aotearoa.
“We have never before had a binding domestic framework to reduce the pollution we emit into the atmosphere that contributes to global warming.
“We have created this framework to give New Zealand a much-needed certainty and predictability about future climate change policy.”
Shaw said the politicization of climate policy had stalled climate action for too long, and the emissions budget would ensure progress was made no matter who was in power.
“It’s a generational challenge. It requires a level of consistency across governments and over decades. The key to this framework is to identify the imperatives and to define the way forward.”
National deputy leader Nicola Willis said while her party was committed to the budget, there could be different approaches on how to meet it.
“As with all government policy and spending, we need effective and efficient climate change policy, so while we agree on goals, we don’t always agree on a path.
“We have choices about how to reduce emissions, and some choices will be better than others. We want to do what works and what works best for the climate.”
Shaw said the agreement was an important milestone for New Zealand’s climate change policy, which builds on the bipartisan support seen when the Zero Carbon Act was passed last year.
“I do want to applaud National’s speech because they do insist that the framework is important.
“I think it’s very important for New Zealanders, whichever government, to see these emissions budgets over the next 15 years.”
While Labour, National and the Greens are all involved in the emissions budget, ACT and Māori are not.
ACT climate change spokesman Simon Court said the budgets were a waste of time.
“These budgets are nothing more than a green policy fashion parade that will cost New Zealand households and businesses billions of dollars,” he said.
“They’re not going to cut emissions any faster than the emissions trading scheme already allows us to do.”
Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said they were against the budget for the opposite reason – they didn’t go far enough.
“Te Pāti Māori does not support the proposed emissions budget – which is disappointingly weak – because we believe they should be stricter and more ambitious.
“It is especially important that the budget is updated to reflect the more urgent action needed on methane emissions. We are pushing the government to put a price on methane emissions immediately, to phase out synthetic fertilizers by 2025, and to publish figures on cow numbers.”
The emissions reduction plan – which will set out how the government will meet the emissions budget – will be released on Monday.