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What are political parties' climate policies?

25 September, 2023

Interview by Rosetta Stone, adapted by Athena Li-Watts

A collaborative of climate advocates have launched a campaign, Vote For Climate NZ, to help voters make a climate-conscious decision this election.

After the devastation caused by extreme weather events in Aotearoa, the effects of the climate crisis have been on the top of mind for many New Zealanders.

Vote For Climate NZ; a campaign comprised of concerned parents, seasoned campaigners, and volunteers, has created a summarised guide for voters on which political parties they believe have the best climate policies — and the worst. 

Vote For Climate NZ spokesperson Jenny Sahng told 95bFM’s The Wire that their ranking was done with accessibility, equitability, and affordability in mind.

Sahng said it is crucial for voters to consider climate issues when voting in the upcoming election.

“Climate change is the most serious issue facing New Zealand and the world.” 

“The IPCC; the international body of scientists that look into the impacts of climate change on the world, have very clearly said that we are running out of time.”

The campaign believes Te Pāti Māori and the Greens have the best policies that would ensure better outcomes on climate change. 

“Te Pāti Māori will rapidly phase out onshore oil and gas permits and withdraw existing onshore and offshore oil and gas permits within five years.”

“The Greens have strong policies on reducing emissions and creating climate-safe towns and cities, while making sure that the changes are affordable for all. Their track record also includes the Zero Carbon Act and establishing the independent Climate Change Commission.”

Labour received a ‘good’ grade for their ban on new permits for offshore oil and gas exploration in 2018.

“A Labour-led coalition is the best government for climate action. Labour has introduced a raft of climate policies – however not as strong or as fast as needed.”

NZ First, National, and ACT’s policies were labelled, bad, worse, and worst for the climate respectively. 

The group describes NZ First’s policies as “weak” and criticises their consistent opposition to climate initiatives during 2017-2020, when they were part of the Labour-led coalition government.

National has announced they would take $2.3b out of the Climate Emergency Response Fund, increase the price of public transport, build more roads over low-emissions transport options, and overturn Labour’s ban on new offshore oil & gas exploration; all policies the campaign opposes. 

Vote For Climate NZ claims many of ACT’s policies would increase emissions, and are against their pledge to scrap the Zero Carbon Act, which makes it mandatory for the Government to set emissions reduction targets. 

“A National-led government would be strongly influenced by the ACT Party, which first denied and is now delaying climate action.”

Sahng said they identified greenwashing in many parties' policies and criticised parties focusing solely on techno-fixes and alternative ways to reduce emissions. 

“These technologies are so far off being developed. Some of the emission reductions they claim are not the level we need.”

“We cannot wait for alternative ways to reduce our emission, we already know what to do.”

Sahng said that public transport, cycle lanes, not building houses in flood zones, and no new oil or gas drilling permits, are all effective ways of reducing emissions now.

“It is pretty basic stuff that New Zealand can afford to do in an equitable way.”

Sahng believes this election is an opportunity for voters to demand systemic change by voting for parties committed to climate action.

She also encourages people to ask their local MP’s what their parties intend to do to tackle the climate crisis. 

Listen to the full interview

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air