Speech at the release of Climate Change Commission's final advice
Good morning – and thank you Prime Minister.
Over the last three and half years we have been putting in place the foundations for a low-carbon Aotearoa that will be a catalyst for job creation, innovation, and prosperity for decades to come.
In that future, many of our everyday tasks will be powered by clean, renewable energy; there will be cleaner air to breathe; cars charged overnight by renewables; homes heated by the power of the sun, and kept warm by insulation; lower energy bills, so there is more money in people's pockets to enjoy what they love.
Kids going to schools heated by clean energy because of the work we are doing to replace coal boilers.
Cleaner options for getting around because of the billions we’ve invested in rail, light rail, buses, walking and cycling infrastructure.
People travelling to work in more efficient cars powered by cleaner fuels because of the Biofuels Mandate and Clean Car Standard.
Warm, dry homes for people to live in because of the expansion of the warmer Kiwi Homes Programme and energy efficiency standards for new state homes.
Cleaner and more efficient workplaces because of the Building for Climate Change programme.
Low emission business employing hundreds of people in well paid jobs thanks to support from the Government Investment in Decarbonising Industry Fund.
New innovations in clean-tech because of the unique support provided by the Green Investment Fund.
New job and business opportunities in the clean energy industries of the future because of the work we have done to build a new energy research centre in Taranaki to kickstart the hydrogen economy.
Carbon sinks all over the country thanks to the $1.2 billion invested in Jobs for Nature.
A public service that leads by example because of the tens of millions invested in zero-emission vehicles and our commitment to carbon neutrality by 2025.
Companies reporting to shareholders on their climate related risks and redirecting capital to cleaner ways of doing business.
Every single one of these achievements is part of the enduring framework we are putting in place for a low-carbon, climate-friendly Aotearoa.
A clean-tech, high-value economy that works for everyone. A future that is more equitable, more prosperous, and more innovative – and all within planetary limits.
We have done more to bring about this future in the last three and half years than the last three and a half decades of governments combined.
Is it enough? No. And the Commission’s final advice makes that clear.
We are yet to see a sustained decline in the pollution we put into the atmosphere. And even when we do, we need to ensure that decline continues and, in fact, picks up pace, every year until we hit net-zero.
But transitioning to a low carbon future takes time. And everything the Commission is recommending we do is about building on the progress we have already made.
Take the recommendation that the Government finance the transition by recycling revenues from the Emissions Trading Scheme. Well, the Minister of Finance committed to that in Budget 2021.
Or the recommendation that we incentivise the uptake of low emission vehicles. Again, the Minister of Finance has set aside more than $300 million to do just that.
The Commission also calls on us to increase our contribution to the Paris Agreement because our previous commitment, made in 2015, is not compatible with our obligation to help keep global temperature increases below 1.5 degrees.
Well, the Prime Minister has already said we will play our part fully - and work is underway to increase our NDC.
The Commission recommends more support to help farms reduce on site emissions; that we make further changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme; that we factor shadow emissions prices into policy and investment analysis; that we increase energy efficiency assistance to low-income households.
These are all areas that we are already acting on.
And so, this advice is not asking us to go back to the drawing board. It’s simply saying that we need to build on the foundations we have laid - and that we need to do it quickly.
Now, none of this is to say that our job is done.
Building a low emissions future will require urgent action across a range of areas, including energy, transport, waste, agriculture, construction and financial services.
Today’s young people will inherit a world from us that will be profoundly altered by the choices we make in the next few years.
The emissions that have the biggest long-term impact on global temperatures hang around in the atmosphere for decades. And so, to achieve the emission reductions the Commission proposes for the second half of this decade and beyond, we need to act now.
The first chance we will have to show that we are equal to this challenge will come with an Emissions Reduction Plan that the Government must publish before the end of the year setting out how we will meet our climate targets.
Now we have the Commission’s final advice, work will get underway on developing the detail of this plan.
I have been clear since the Commission published its draft advice in January that every part of the Government will need to come to the table and commit to urgent action to bring down emissions in their sector.
If we can do that, then we can reverse the current trend and finally bring emissions down in line with what science requires.
Of the many challenges we face, the climate crisis is the one that will shape the lives of our children and grandchildren the most.
I want them to look back on the release of this advice as a turning point. The moment that the whole of government realised that there is a job for everyone in bringing about a clean, stable future in which they can thrive.