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Jacinda Ardern’s Government Declares Climate Emergency In New Zealand

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New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern’s Government has declared a climate emergency and also promised to achieve a carbon-neutral government by 2025 on Wednesday. The declaration which is a symbolic step to increase pressure for action to combat global warming will make New Zealand one of 32 other countries who have declared a climate emergency.

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According to Ardern, the declaration on climate emergency was based on the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which said that to avoid more than 1.5 degree Celsius rise in global warming, emissions would need to fall by around 45% from 2010 levels by 2023 and reach zero by around 2050. Ardern also told the lawmakers in the parliament, “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,” as quoted by The Hindu.

Speaking to parliament after its introduction she said, “ We’ve always considered climate change to be a huge threat to our region, and it is something we must take immediate action on.” Ardern who returned to power last month delivering the biggest election victory for her centre-left Labour Party also added, “Unfortunately, we were unable to progress a motion around a climate emergency in parliament in the last term, but now we’re able to,” quoted NDTV.

After an hour-long debate in the parliament, a majority of the members voted in favour of Ardern’s declaration. However, opposition parties have criticised the move and called it a publicity stunt, with the National Party leader, Judith Collins, calling it “virtue signaling”. The critics also said that the move needs to be backed by greater actions to reduce emissions.

The government is investing NZ$200 million ($141 million) to replace coil broilers and purchase electric hybrid vehicles that will reduce emissions. In her last term, Ardern’s government passed a Zero Carbon Bill, which sets the framework for net zero emissions by 2050, with an exemption for farming, and banned new offshore oil and gas exploration. Gas emissions that are produced during agriculture form nearly half of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

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The newly elected New Zealand government was sworn in on Tuesday and resumed working from Wednesday. The cabinet was praised for being the most diverse parliament ever, with people of colour and LGBTQ+ community as it’s members. Read more about it here.

Arunima Sharma is an intern with SheThePeople.TV