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article imageWith bipartisan support, New Zealand passes zero-emissions bill

By Karen Graham     Nov 7, 2019 in Environment
New Zealand has reached an agreement on climate change policy, passing the Zero Carbon Bill in Parliament, with opposition forces joining across the aisle to set a course for the country to radically reduce emissions by the year 2050.
In a 119 to one vote, the bill which commits New Zealand to keeping global warming below 1.5 C through a variety of measures, was introduced by the liberal government and supported by the conservative opposition National party.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern delivered a remarkable off-the-cuff speech in Parliament just prior to the bill's passing, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, saying: "For this generation, this is our nuclear moment," she said, in reference to The New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act which passed into law in 1987. "We have to start working beyond targets. We have to start working beyond aspiration. We have to start moving beyond signs of hope and deliver signs of action. That is what this government is doing and proudly so."
The law requires that all greenhouse gas emissions, with the exception of methane from animals, be reduced to net-zero by 2050. Methane emissions would be reduced by 10 percent by 2030, and by one-quarter to one-half by 2050. But, there is more to the bill.
The legislation establishes a Climate Change Commission, which will advise the government on how to reach its targets. The government also promised to plant one billion trees over the next 10 years and aims to have the electrical grid run entirely from renewable energy by 2035, according to the Associated Press.
"There's an urgent and a critical need for increased global action if we are to limit glob...
"There's an urgent and a critical need for increased global action if we are to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels," says New Zealand's Jacinda Ardern
Kena Betancur, Afp/AFP/File
Agriculture is key to New Zealand's economy. While the country is home to a little under 5 million people, there are more than 10 million cows and about 28 million sheep. And it is the methane issue that had its opponents inside Parliament and out. One-man libertarian party ACT voted against the bill, while the lobby group, Federated Farmers, pointed the methane target would likely lead to reduce production.
"They had a golden opportunity to pass a bill that was fit for purpose ... and taken farmers along as well," vice president Andrew Hoggard said. "New Zealand farmers are proud to be the most carbon-efficient farmers in the world. Forcing them to reduce production is not only going to make New Zealand poorer but will likely increase global emissions, so we will effectively be shooting ourselves in both feet."
More about New Zealand, zeroemissions, bipartisan support, too big for politics, Climate crisis
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