New Zealand has declared a climate change emergency and committed to a carbon-neutral government by 2025, in what the prime minister Jacinda Ardern called “one of the greatest challenges of our time”.
A motion tabled in parliament on Wednesday recognised “the devastating impact that volatile and extreme weather will have on New Zealand and the wellbeing of New Zealanders, on our primary industries, water availability, and public health through flooding, sea level rise, and wildfire”.
Thirty-two other nations have formally acknowledged the global crisis by declaring a climate emergency.
The motion acknowledged the “alarming trend in species decline and global biodiversity” including the decline in New Zealand’s indigenous biodiversity.
The declaration of a climate emergency was supported by the Green Party and Māori Party and opposed by the National and Act parties.
Speaking in parliament after its introduction, Ardern said the country must “act with urgency”.
“This declaration is an acknowledgement of the next generation. An acknowledgement of the burden that they will carry if we do not get this right and do not take action now,” she said.
“It is up to us to make sure we demonstrate a plan for action, and a reason for hope.”