New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared a “climate emergency” on Wednesday, telling parliament that urgent action was needed for the sake of future generations.
The declaration was based on the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that global emissions need to fall dramatically to avoid more than 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming.
New Zealand joins 32 other countries, including Canada, France and Britain, who have declared a climate change emergency.
“This is a declaration of science,’’ Ardern told parliament.
“This declaration is an acknowledgement of the next generation. An acknowledgement of the burden they will carry if we do not take action now.’’
The symbolic step was made at the same time the government announced it would require the public sector to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025.
Agencies would need to measure and publicly report on their emissions and to offset any they can’t cut, Ardern announced in a statement.
“Requiring the public sector to be carbon neutral within five years highlights the Government’s commitment to leadership on climate change and the urgency of the action required,’’ Ardern said
She said it was an important step forward in New Zealand’s plan to be carbon neutral by 2050.
“This policy, alongside today’s declaration of a climate emergency, serves as a message to the public sector to get our own house in order,’’ she said.
Labour, Greens and the Maori Party voted for the declaration which was more than enough for a majority, while ACT and National voted against it.