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Green Party’s James Shaw: Narrow window for meaningful climate action in Aotearoa

March 23, 2023

Interview by Emilia Sullivan, adapted by Georgi Stirling 

Green party co-leader James Shaw says Labour has demonstrated that they do not view climate policy as a “bread and butter” issue. Photo: Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Listen to the full interview

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report has shown that we only have a narrow window remaining to prevent the planet from warming 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. 

A majority of countries adopted the Paris Agreement in December 2015, the central aim of which includes pursuing efforts to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C.

Green party co-leader James Shaw told Emilia Sullivan on 95bFM’s The Wire that the report confirmed what he already knew about global progress in reducing our emissions. 

“The data has been showing us for some time that the targets that countries have set for themselves don't quite yet add up to what is required, but worse than that, countries are not actually delivering against the targets they have set for themselves.” 

However, Shaw did acknowledge that the fact there is a small window for us to make meaningful change and turn things around was good news. 

Regarding Aotearoa’s progress in curbing agricultural emissions, Shaw maintained that although we were one of the first countries to enter an agreement with its agricultural sector to reduce animal methane, that progress has been “painfully slow.” 

An actual system to make any change is yet to be put in place and Shaw said the proposals he has seen do not go far enough. 

On the back of Chris Hipkins’ decision to cut a series of climate policies last week, Shaw said that the Greens had not had a chance to discuss with the government how to make up for these scrapped policies, but this was mostly due to the government being occupied with recovery from the severe weather events. 

He noted that although it may seem like each individual policy will not make a huge difference, “collectively they do add up”, and the Greens are currently working on a package of proposals.

Reflecting on the Green’s cooperative agreement with Labour over the past five and a half years, Shaw stated that they have had a good constructive working relationship, but naturally, they do not agree on everything, which was especially evident last week. 

Shaw emphasised that Labour has demonstrated that they do not view climate policy as a “bread and butter” issue, and voting for the Green Party will result in meaningful climate action, as they have always prioritised action on climate change above all else. 

“The more Green MPs you have in parliament, the more green ministers you have around the cabinet table, the more influence you are able to exert over the direction of the next government.”

Public interest journalism funded through NZ On Air