Even greener New Zealand
100 million trees annually and 100% renewable energy are planned.
THE world’s youngest (national) female leader, Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand, is hoping to make her nation greener by planting 100 million trees each year, ensuring electricity comes entirely from renewable energy, and spending more money on cycle paths and rail transport.
Jacinda Ardern, who took over as Prime Minister last week, said, “Climate change... will sit at the heart of what this government does.”
Ardern’s plan is for New Zealand to reduce its net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by the year 2050, according to an AP report.
Some of the targets will require only small changes. New Zealand already generates about 85% of its electricity from renewable sources including hydroelectric, geothermal and wind. Ardern plans to increase that to 100% by 2035, in part by investigating whether solar panels can be used atop schools.
She said the country will need to double the amount of trees it plants each year, a goal she said was “absolutely achievable” by using land that was marginal for farming animals. Her plans also call for the government’s vehicle fleet to be green within a decade.
Climate Home News reports that Ardern wants to implement a zero carbon law and an independent climate commission (which will cover all greenhouse gas emissions and trading schemes to offset them).
The Green party, who will support the coalition in parliament, already backs the proposed 2050 net zero emissions target.
The 2050 target would put New Zealand in the vanguard of climate action. Sweden aims for net zero emissions by 2045 while Norway has bid to be carbon neutral by 2030. Both nations will rely on offsetting residual emissions by buying international carbon credits and planting trees.
The US, Canada, Mexico, UK, France, Germany and the EU have all committed to deep emissions cuts by the middle of the century, but not net zero.
To achieve the cuts, the New Zealand coalition partners both back the establishment of a UK-style carbon budget system overseen by an independent commission. But not everybody is happy with the plans, reports AP. Many farmers are worried they will be required to pay more if they are absorbed into an emissions trading scheme.
“There is concern that if this should happen, New Zealand will become less competitive with other food-producing nations,” said Katie Milne, the president of advocacy group Federated Farmers.
Ardern has also outlined a plan to spend 1 billion New Zealand dollars (RM2.93bil) a year on the country’s smaller towns and regions to improve rail and other infrastructure.
New Zealand has lots of geothermal activity (like here at Whakarewarewa) and some of it has been harnessed to reduce the use of fossil fuels. — Te Puia
Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s new Prime Minister, places the environment as a top priorty. – Bloomberg