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New Zealand

Zero Carbon Bill 'gutted' before passing - youth climate activists

Newshub logoNewshub 8/11/2019 Scott Palmer
a man standing in front of a tall building: Youth climate activists say the Zero Carbon Bill was significantly weakened in order to get cross-party support. © Image - File; Video - Newshub Nation Youth climate activists say the Zero Carbon Bill was significantly weakened in order to get cross-party support.

Parliament has passed the landmark Zero Carbon Bill in a near-unanimous result on Thursday. But is the commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050 strong enough?

Dewy Sacayan from Generation Zero and Luke Wijohn from School Strike for Climate joined Newshub Nation on Saturday to discuss the future.

Wijohn says the Bill was significantly weakened in order to get cross-party support.

"I think if you look at the Zero Carbon Bill there were three key things we wanted in the beginning, and Generation Zero wanted it to be ambitious, cross-partisan and to be legally binding. And we've got one of those things - it's cross-partisan," he told Newshub Nation host Simon Shepherd.

"It was gutted in order to get every politician behind it because there are some who are still so ancient in their thinking about climate change."

Sacayan agrees that the Zero Carbon Bill is "definitely not perfect".

"It's definitely missing a plan, and that's what we need. That's what we're going to continue monitoring the Government to do within Generation Zero," she says.

In Parliament, National leader Simon Bridges said while National supported it, he's committing to improving the Bill further should the Opposition earn the right to govern in 2020.

Bridges said should National be elected in 2020, it will be up to the Climate Change Commission to decide on the methane reduction target, continuing its pushback against the 24-47 percent reduction by 2050 in the current Bill.

Bridges said National would also make clear the stated aim of the Paris Agreement - which National signed New Zealand up to in 2016 - is for greenhouse gas reduction to occur in a "manner that does not threaten food production". 

Wijohn told Shepherd these proposals from Bridges worry him.

"It's this idea that they're still obsessed with this notion, this fairytale, that we can have infinite growth on a finite planet. They want to both be growing these notions of GDP, of destroying and extracting, while also destroying the planet," Wijohn says.

"And it's going to be a rude awakening for them when they realise they can't have both."

Sacayan adds there's no need to "needlessly try and amend" the Bill.

"To be honest though, all of the changes that National wanted to - or proposed - in their social media video, is already addressed in the Bill."

Wijohn says we now need to see concrete action in the next decade in order to defeat climate change.

"Basically these next 10 years are what's going to decide whether we are able to defeat climate change or whether it defeats us," he says.

"We need tangible, actual policy not vague goals for 50 years down the track."

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