New Zealand’s next prime minister Jacinda Ardern has set ambitious environmental policies to confront a warming planet.
“I do anticipate that we will be a government, as I said during the campaign, that will be absolutely focused on the challenge of climate change,” said Ardern, whose Labour party has signed a coalition agreement with the New Zealand First party.
“That will include a zero carbon act. That will include an independent climate commission. That will include making sure that we have an all gases, all sectors emissions trading scheme,” she added.
Other green initiatives include transitioning the country’s power grid to 100 percent renewable energy, a significant investment in regional rail, and a goal to plant 100 million trees a year through the “Billion Trees Planting Programme.”
According to the Associated Press, Arden said the goal of doubling the amount of trees the country plants each year is “absolutely achievable” by using land that was marginal for farming animals.
The Green Party will support the incoming government with a confidence and supply agreement, which includes a major goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
“All three parties share an absolute commitment to addressing climate change,” Ardern said.
As Climate Change News noted, New Zealand’s 2050 net zero target puts it in the same hat as Sweden, which wants net zero by 2045, and Norway, which is aiming for 2030. Other developed nations such as the U.S, Canada, Mexico, the U.K., France and Germany have committed to cutting emissions but none to net zero.
More than 80 percent of New Zealand’s electricity already comes from renewables, primarily through hydropower, geothermal and wind. The AP reported that Ardern wants to ramp it to 100 percent by 2035 in part by investing more in solar, which currently takes up only 0.1 percent of the country’s total renewable energy slice.
The 37-year-old – New Zealand’s youngest leader in more than 150 years – plans to take the country on a more liberal path after nine years of conservative rule. Other initiatives include increasing the minimum wage, free doctors’ visits for all under 14-years-old, and a review and reform of the Reserve Bank Act.