The Climate Emergency: Where To From Here?
We know the climate is in a pretty dire state.
Greenhouse gas emissions are rising, as so is the temperature, causing drastic changes in the climate that life on earth is struggling to keep up with.
But, how bad does it have to get before we treat it like the emergency it is?
Recently, New Zealand has decided to do apparently just that, declaring a nationwide climate emergency on the 2nd of December, 2020.
But… what does that mean? And more importantly, what does that actually change?
We’ll explain the roots of the climate emergency declaration, as well as what will come from it moving forward, and what your organisation can do to stay ahead of the curve.
The History of the Climate Emergency
So, what is a declaration of a climate emergency and why now?
The goal of a declaration, according to the Climate Emergency Declaration Campaign, is to “declare a climate emergency and mobilise society-wide resources at sufficient scale and speed to protect civilisation, the economy, people, species, and ecosystems”.
Essentially, to prioritise resource usage for the slowing of climate change. But that’s not all there is to it.
It should be treated as a way to address and acknowledge the seriousness at hand, something that New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has stated.
While the statement may reflect eco-conscious values, Ardern says that the statement of climate emergency is “just that”, merely a statement and actions must continue to show progress.
New Zealand’s Part to Play
In 2019, Chloe Swarbrick, of the Green Party, attempted a motion to declare a climate emergency but was shot down by just one vote.
In just one year, NZ seems to have had a change in heart.
While ACT leader David Seymour calls it “a marketing stunt”, New Zealand has now joined countries such as France, Britain, Canada, and Japan in declaring an emergency to tackle climate change.
However, New Zealand’s performance is embarrassingly poor when it comes to emission reductions, and our carbon footprint is way oversized for our population.
So it all comes back to…
What does declaring a climate emergency actually DO?
Unfortunately… The answer is, not much.
The declaration incites no legally actionable change. While it’s a great way to show that New Zealand is concerned about the state of the climate (and rightly so), its climate responsibilities do not change.
So, What Comes Next?
Sure, its great to see moves to formally recognise the climate crisis that is currently upon us, but what now?
Borrowing the words of Greenpeace UK, its time to “call a climate emergency, then act like it”.
The time for climate action is now, and that responsibility doesn’t just fall upon parliament.
New Zealand will need to see an enormous, nation-wide shift to a low-emissions economy if we are to reach the targets set out in the Zero Carbon bill, let alone new regulations as a result of the climate emergency declaration.
The declaration included a commitment to a carbon neutral government by 2025, something that should “show leadership and demonstrate what is possible to other sectors of the New Zealand economy”.
This means that Crown agencies will have to “measure, verify and report emissions annually”, as well as setting emission reduction targets, with plans to work toward them.
However, regulations are likely to also be introduced around other areas, such as the recent introduction of mandatory TCFD reporting for the private sector, so it's best to be prepared for future shifts.
Stay Ahead of the Curve – Carbon EMS
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