To Fight Climate Change NZ Needs Legislation Fit For Purpose

2020 is the start of the new decade and it’s crunch time for climate change. Emissions will need to be substantially reduced by the end of this decade, whether we like it or not.

Jacinda Ardern started her 2017 election campaign by saying “Climate change is my generation’s nuclear-free moment. I am determined that we will tackle it head on.”

Excellent. But fast forward to 2020. Why do we still have OMV embarking on oil explorations off the coast of New Zealand? How have they managed to avoid a head on confrontation?

The only way to tackle climate change is to seriously reduce emissions. The only way to reduce emissions is to reduce the amount of oil being produced. Unbelievably, despite the increase in wind power, electric vehicles, solar panels, etc, the amount of oil being produced worldwide annually is still increasing. It is vital that no new oil fields are brought into production.

OMV should not have been permitted to carry out exploratory drilling in New Zealand waters any more than the French should have been allowed to carry out nuclear testing at Mururoa Atoll in the 1970s and 80s. New Zealanders put a stop to that and went further by declaring the country a nuclear free zone.

Time now to say “no” to oil exploration. New Zealanders today are just as up for it as their 1970s counterparts. Tens of thousands turned out to the school climate marches last year, demanding urgent action. But embarrassingly, we are stymied by our outdated legislation. Specifically section 59(5)(b) of the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf Act (EEZ/CS Act) which explicitly prohibits the Environment Protection Authority from having regard to climate change. Section 104(e) of the Resource Management Act does the same for applications for consents inland.

It will not be possible to tackle climate change unless these clauses are removed from our legislation. The EPA and Resource Management Act must be able to take the effects on climate change into consideration in consent applications.

For a government wanting to tackle climate change head on, surely this is the place to start. 2020, as well as being the start of a new decade, is an election year. Let’s do this.