New Zealand Declares War On Climate Crisis With Passage Of Zero Emissions Bill

New Zealand is once again leading the way in the fight against climate change, this time by passing a bill that seeks to cut emissions to zero by 2050, thus fulfilling the nation’s commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement.

Rising global temperatures due to excessive carbon levels in the atmosphere have placed the planet in serious jeopardy of suffering catastrophe from which there is no return. Scientists have repeatedly warned that crossing the red line of 1.5 C will bring about uncontrollable climate change, which means worse natural disasters such as droughts, hurricanes and wildfires. And that’s not to mention to potential extinction of up to one million plant and animal species, the loss of which would cripple ecosystems around the world.

While nations such as the United States continue to deny the reality of climate change and are continuing to double down on fossil fuels and carbon emissions, New Zealand is taking the opposite approach by embracing the Paris agreement.

This week Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke to Parliament prior to a vote on a zero-emissions bill that puts New Zealand on a path to carbon neutrality.

“We have to start working beyond targets,” Ardern said. “We have to start working beyond aspiration. We have start moving beyond signs of hope and deliver signs of action. That is what this government is doing and proudly so.”

“I absolutely believe and continue to stand by the statement that climate change is the biggest challenge of our time,” she continued. “Undeniably, our sea levels are rising, and undeniably, we are experiencing extreme weather events – increasingly so. Undeniably, the science tells us the impact there will be on flora and fauna, and yes also the spread of diseases in areas where we haven’t previously seen them.”

Indeed, sea-level rise is already wiping out island nations.

In addition, coastlines around the globe are going to be devastated, including the coasts of California and Florida.

Recognizing the facts, the New Zealand Parliament overwhelmingly passed the bill 119-1, setting the nation on the path to eliminate carbon emissions by 2050, a step in the right direction, although more must be done and sooner if we are serious about preventing the worst effects of climate change.

Ardern praised passage of the bill.

“Today we have made a choice that will leave a legacy… I hope means that future generations will see that we, in New Zealand, were on the right side of history,” she said.

In addition to climate change minister James Shaw also hailed the landmark moment his country just achieved.

“We’ve led the world before in nuclear disarmament and in votes for women, now we are leading again,” Shaw told The Guardian. “Climate change is the defining long-term issue of our generation that successive governments have failed to address. Today we take a significant step forward in our plan to reduce New Zealand’s emissions.”

This is a significant step, but other nations need to follow suit or it means nothing. Climate change is a worldwide problem, so it requires worldwide action. The United States in particular needs to join the fight instead of running away from it. If not, climate change will continue to get worse, putting our own survival in doubt. The United States could have led the way in this fight. Now the only choice left to us is to follow or be left behind.

Featured Image: Wikimedia

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Stephen D. Foster Jr.

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