NZ PM Ardern declares ‘climate emergency’
Published: 11:00 AM, 2 December 2020 Updated: 03:27 PM, 2 December 2020
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern moves a motion in the Parliament House in Wellington, New Zealand, to declare a climate emergency, Wednesday, December 2, 2020; Photo: AFP/Mark Mitchell
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared a “climate emergency” on Wednesday, telling the Parliament that urgent action was needed for the sake of future generations.
“The science on climate change was clear and New Zealand had to acknowledge the threat,” Ardern said.
The center-left leader said the challenges posed by global warming meant parliament’s declaration — an act undertaken by more than a dozen other countries — was warranted.
“In those cases where we do issue declarations, it is often where there is a threat to life, a threat to the property, and civil defence emergencies,” she told Parliament.
“If we do not respond to climate change, we will continue to have these emergencies on our shores.”
Lawmakers passed the largely symbolic emergency declaration by 76 votes to 43 after Ardern urged them to back the move.
“Vote in favor of this declaration, be on the right side of history, be part of the solution we must collectively deliver for the next generation,” she said.
Britain’s parliament became the first in the world to declare a climate emergency, passing the motion in May last year, followed closely by Ireland.
However, New Zealand’s center-right opposition National Party rejected the climate emergency declaration, labeling it “virtue signaling”.
“It can do harm in making people think that by declaring an emergency something has happened, when it hasn’t,” National leader Judith Collins told Radio New Zealand, saying: “It’s quite false and misleading.”
Ardern, last year, announced New Zealand to become carbon neutral by 2050 and to generate all its energy from renewable sources by 2035. She has also halted all new offshore oil and gas exploration in New Zealand
However, critics say that Ardern’s government has not done enough to enhance New Zealand’s “clean, green” reputation since she took office in 2017 after campaigning strongly on environmental issues.