Zero Carbon Act - Quick Submission

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Photo: Nuana Tyler

Minister James Shaw’s decision to open the Zero Carbon Bill to a public consultation gives us a unique chance to make our voices heard on the biggest threat facing whales and dolphins at a global level – climate change.

Food sources, migration patterns, and the breeding success of marine mammals are just some of the areas under threat from climate change if we do not reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. We need to make sure that the Zero Carbon Bill will be a long-lasting and effective measure that takes environmental, as well as human, considerations into account.

This is where you come in.

We have drafted a submission which you can simply copy and paste to send to the Ministry for the Environment. It responds to the aspects of this bill that will directly impact marine mammals.

Make your voice heard by sending through your submission today.

Copy and paste the text below into an email which will be sent directly to the Ministry for the Environment. Please make sure sign the submission with your name or organisation name.

Send to:

Dear Minister,

I am writing to make known my opinions on the Zero Carbon Act, with reference to the key areas highlighted in the ‘Our Climate Your Say’ discussion document.

My concerns regarding climate change stem from my passion for wildlife and in particular marine mammals and my responses are influenced by this.

As your discussion document states, we do not know the full implications of climate change on the natural environment, but scientific research has shown that marine ecosystems are far more sensitive to even the slightest temperature change when compared to terrestrial areas. With the ocean making up 93% of New Zealand’s territory, the future of our marine environment should be a priority in any discussion on climate change.

Habitat destruction, changes to migration routes, and changing rates of breeding success are all potential problems which face marine life as a result of climate change. Krill, the main food source for baleen feeders, and an integral element of the food chain for toothed marine mammals, have already been shown to reproduce in far smaller numbers when ocean temperatures rise[1]. And this is just one example.

I want the government to set a 2050 target in legislation now, with a commitment to net zero emissions across all greenhouse gases by that date. With methane making up 43% of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions, any commitment which seeks only to stabilise short-term gases would not be sufficient. This target should be achieved within New Zealand, by planting trees and cutting emissions, not by international carbon trading.

I agree with the proposed considerations that the government and Commission will need to take into account with regard to the emissions budgets. These budgets should be five years in length, and set 10-15 years in advance, with annual public reports on progress to ensure transparency. The government should not be able to alter these budgets, with the exception of scientific breakthroughs in regard to climate change. The Zero Carbon Bill should require the government to set out plans within a timeframe to achieve these emissions budgets.

I believe the Climate Change Commission should take on an advisory, not policy-making role, but with mechanisms built-in to hold the government to account. The government should publicly respond to, and give reasons for deviating from, the Commission’s advice. I agree that the Commission should have the relevant expertise listed in the discussion document, with the addition of a commissioner dedicated to monitoring and reporting on the continuing implications of climate change for the marine environment.

With regards to my last point, I do, therefore, agree that the Zero Carbon Act should require:

- a national climate change risk assessment

- a national adaptation plan

- regular reviews of progress towards implementing the national adaptation plan

- an adaptation reporting power

I congratulate you on the decision to present the public with this opportunity to make their opinions on climate change heard, and look forward to seeing the results of this consultation put into action.

Yours sincerely,


[1] National Geographic (2010), Sea Temperature Rise, (Accessed 13/6/2018).

Please note that all or part of any written submission (including names of submitters) may be published on MfE’s website: Contents of submissions may be released to the public under the Official Information Act 1982 following requests to the Ministry for the Environment (including via email). Please specify in the further comments box above if you have any objection to information contained in your submission being released, and the reason(s) for withholding the information. MfE will take into account all objections when responding to any requests for copies of, and information on, submissions to this Bill under the Official Information Act.

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