Almost all of us in New Zealand want to see a country and a planet that we can pass on to our children and grand-children. That is why one of the big questions our Parliament faces is how we respond to the issue of climate change and our environment.
In Government, we worked hard to show that environmental protection and the task of lowering our carbon emissions need not come at the expense of the economy or at the cost of new taxes.
We implemented the world-leading Emissions Trading Scheme. This reduced greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining economic productivity, maintained our electricity generation to be about 90 per cent from renewable sources, and implemented new incentives for electric vehicles.
Moreover, we committed to further reductions in our global emissions by signing up to the Paris Agreement, meaning we set an ambitious target of reducing our emissions to 30 per cent less than 2005 levels by the year 2030.
This has seen our greenhouse gas emissions drop since 2008, despite a growing economy and growing population. This shows that sound environmental policy does not need to come at the expense of the economy.
In opposition, we are continuing to work responsibly on climate change. Recently, Simon Bridges announced that National would be building new policies to help us meet our ambitious emission reduction targets. These policies will be based on the principles of creating sustainable long term change, working with all of our economic sectors, and ensuring that we don’t sabotage our economy.
The first step we are taking is announcing that we will work with the current Government in establishing a new Climate Change Commission. This Commission would support New Zealand’s emission reductions by both advising the Government on carbon budgets, and holding the Government to account by publishing progress reports on emissions.
National want practical, sensible solutions, not extreme policies that could damage the economy and unnecessarily drive up costs for Kiwi households.
Policies like establishing an independent Climate Change Commission to help guide our strategy is a good first step in ensuring that New Zealand continues the work we have been doing on securing our environment for future generations.
Jami-Lee Ross is MP for Botany