Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg has criticised New Zealand’s climate emergency declaration for its lack of action in helping limit global warming by 1.5 degrees Celsius as set out in the Paris Agreement.
Taking to Twitter, the 17-year-old said “New Zealand's so-called climate emergency declaration” is “nothing unique to any nation” because it was only - effectively - committing to reducing less than one per cent of the country’s emissions by 2025.
Thunberg's tweet today comes after the Government declared the emergency on December 2. Alongside it, the Government promised the public sector would reduce emissions and offset any it produced to make it carbon neutral by 2025.
The Government pledged that all coal boilers would be phased out, agencies would reduce the number of cars in its fleets, require the purchasing of hybrids and EVs, and energy emission building standards would be met.
But, according to reporting on Newsroom that Thunberg made reference to in her tweet, that promise would only reduce New Zealand’s emissions by 483,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases a year, out of its total emissions of 78.9 million tonnes a year.
Thunberg’s criticism of the climate emergency declaration echoes that of opposition parties.
National's climate change spokesperson Stuart Smith said declaring a climate emergency was "nothing but a hollow symbolic gesture", with ACT's Simon Court saying it was a "triumph of politics over practical solutions, slogans over substance".
But not all MPs were critical of the move.
Māori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said “for tangata whenua, this motion is well overdue”.
She said tangata whenua had known for a long time that the environment was in trouble, and asked people to unite for future generations.
Green Party co-leader and Climate Change Minister James Shaw promised “substance” behind the declaration, saying the Government would be “reluctant to declare a climate emergency that would just be empty words”.