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. 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.
 National Geographic (2010), Sea Temperature Rise, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/oceans/critical-issues-sea-temperature-rise/ (Accessed 13/6/2018).
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