Thursday, December 9

‘I’m heartbroken, I didn’t want to do it’ – Shaw on climate plan delay

The climate minister says the disruption caused by the Covid-19 shutdown is behind a five-month delay in his proposal to address the climate crisis, but an environmental activist claims government agencies have also been long behind in creating. of the plan.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern with Climate Change Minister James Shaw.

Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Climate Minister James Shaw announced yesterday that the Cabinet agreed to delay the Emissions Reduction Plan until the end of May 2022.

Also yesterday, New Zealand was named and embarrassed in the international Climate Action Tracker report for its poor carbon emissions record.

Shaw said Morning report the closure has disrupted the public’s ability to provide feedback on the plan.

“I am devastated, I did not want to do it, but in the end we have a third of the population under lockdown at the moment,” he said.

“We have a lot of the organizations, whether they are iwi organizations or businesses or community organizations, that are just trying to keep the lights on.

“Ultimately, we think that if we tried to consult with the public under those conditions, basically those people would not be able to participate to the fullest extent.

Shaw said some meetings could be done digitally, but many people who work from home already face a higher workload and doing all inquiries online is “a pretty prime position.”

Under the Zero Carbon Act, the final plan was due to be presented by the end of the year, but Shaw said it will now be released in late May, in accordance with the 2022 Budget. But he said the framework of what the plan entails it will be clear before.

“During the October consultation, you will have a pretty good idea of ​​the outline of the plan,” he said.

Climate activist Dr. Paul Winton, founder of Project 1.5, said there are good reasons for delaying the plan, but the main one is what he called the “ineptitude” of government agencies to get the job started.

“At first glance, it’s obviously disappointing that one of the biggest plans New Zealand is going to come up with over the next decade has been delayed, but if you think about what it really is, it makes sense.

“What this plan will do is effectively guide the country’s strategy in many aspects until 2035.”

But Winton said government agencies didn’t do what was needed.

“Unfortunately, the ministers’ reporting agencies just haven’t done the groundwork before that to advance that plan. They started almost cold and as a result had three months to come up with a 15-year plan.”

“In fact, it’s good that they gave themselves more time so that we can come up with a much better plan than something rushed.”

Shaw is scheduled to travel in November to the United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP26, in Glasgow, Scotland.

He said New Zealand will present some of its improved climate targets in Glasgow.

“Yes, we will. You have to remember that the contribution determined nationally under the Paris Agreement, we were always going to go to Glasgow with an update to that, as well as a change in our commitment on what we call climate finance, which is essentially the support that developed countries are giving to developing countries to help with the transition. “

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Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Winton said the government must start working with the public now to make clear what changes will be made to meet the demands of climate change.

“If we do this right, this should really improve living standards,” he said, but added: “The government should come to an agreement. [public relations] campaign that is similar to what we are seeing in Covid now. “

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change declared in 2018 that the world needed to limit warming to 1.5 degrees.

Winton said there has been a lot of time to react to that report.

“That was written specifically two years ago. At that point, those agencies should have mixed, put together teams to come up with the gist of a plan for what that would look like.

“But unfortunately, if you listen closely, there were crickets chirping sounds the previous couple of years until about April of this year.

“There’s a lot of head shaking around here. The word ineptitude was used and I think it’s amazing that agencies like the Waka Kotahi Ministry of Transportation and the like, who are responsible for the bones of the plan around this, haven’t – stepped on this. “.

Winton said that with New Zealand being criticized for its slow action by groups like Climate Action Tracker, it is important that Shaw makes a strong impression in Glasgow.

“There has been a global expectation that people will come to the party with serious plans.”

“At the end of the day, I think it’s the right thing to do to delay this … but it’s a very, very bad aspect.”

Shaw said New Zealand will honor its commitments in developing the Emission Reduction Plan.

“I can’t assume a cabinet decision that hasn’t happened yet, but the Climate Change Commission gave us very clear guidance in May saying that our current targets under the Paris Agreement are inadequate for a 1.5 degree world and should be much greater than 36 percent to be not only credible, but even scientifically valid. “

“The Cabinet is currently working on the options that exist in this regard.”

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