The new government has an historic opportunity to unlock a future where New Zealanders thrive in harmony with nature, says environmental organisation WWF-New Zealand.
“The 2017 election was the environment election,” said WWF-New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Livia Esterhazy today. “Environmental issues like addressing climate change, protecting our oceans and waterways, and protecting New Zealand's beautiful, unique plants and animals were part of the debate like never before.
“This gives the new government an historic opportunity to protect New Zealand's natural environment.”
At the WWF-New Zealand Climate Debate, just days before the election, all three parties in the new government ranked climate action as 10-out-of-10 for importance and committed to passing a new climate law like the Zero Carbon Act.
“As the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics New Zealand report released yesterday confirms, New Zealand is now emitting 24% more of the greenhouse gases, that are causing climate change, than we did in 1990. What's more, our emissions are still rising.
“Parliament has the chance to put New Zealand back on course. A safe climate future for all New Zealanders is 100% possible,” Ms Esterhazy said. “WWF-New Zealand will continue to call for all political parties to support the Zero Carbon Act.”
WWF-New Zealand plans to deliver thousands of messages from its supporters to the new Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, calling for her government to protect New Zealand's critically endangered Māui dolphins.
“The Department of Conservation estimates that only 63 Māui dolphins remain,” Ms Esterhazy said. “Scientists tell us that just one more dying in a fishing net could risk Māui dolphins' very survival.
“The new government has the opportunity to support fishing communities on the West Coast of the North Island to switch to fishing methods that are safe for these precious dolphins.”
WWF-New Zealand would love to work with all parties in Parliament to create a science-based representative network of marine protect areas – starting with the Kermadec Rangitāhua Ocean Sanctuary.
“Less than 1% of New Zealand's ocean territory is fully protected from fishing, oil exploration, and seabed mining,” Ms Esterhazy said. “Under the Convention of Biological Diversity, we promised to protect 10%. Scientists told the UN earlier this year that the world should fully protect 30% of our oceans.
“By passing a law to create the Kermadec Rangitāhua Ocean Sanctuary, the new government could protect 15% of our ocean territory in one hit – a major contribution to global ocean conservation.
WWF-New Zealand will also continue to support the Fresh Water Action Plan.
“All of us from farmers to city dwellers deserve a chance to live the unique Kiwi lifestyle with healthy thriving rivers,” Ms Esterhazy said. “Rivers are the lifeblood of our country – for our amazing native wildlife, for big parts of our economy, and for our unique Kiwi lifestyle. New Zealanders have made it clear that they want the new government to protect our rivers.
“When it comes to our natural world, business as usual just won't work. As the environment election proved, New Zealand people, businesses and communities share a love for our New Zealand nature. Now, it's time for the new government to seize this historic opportunity.”