New Zealand's prime minister Jacinda Ardern has called climate crisis “one of the greatest challenges of our time" as she declared a climate emergency on Wednesday, joining 32 nations including Canada, France and Britain, in laying out long-term plans to reduce emissions.
The country's newly sworn-in parliament has pledged to lead by example. Ardern said the public sector will be carbon neutral by 2025: buying only electric or hybrid vehicles, reducing its car fleet by 20%, and phasing out all coal-fired boilers from public service buildings as it lays out a new green standard.
In addition, the government will introduce the first of three emissions budgets in 2021, consider more ambitious targets for New Zealand under the Paris Agreement, and adopt a plan to meet international obligations between 2021-2030, which includes cutting its global carbon emissions in half by 2030.
"As we accelerate our economic response to COVID-19, this will not only create a better future for our kids and grandkids, but help bring to new economic opportunities in low carbon industries, and create good, well-paid jobs across the country," climate minister James Shaw said in a statement on Wednesday.
It comes as the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) warns that 2020 is on track to becoming the hottest year on record. According to the UN agency, 2011-2020 will be the warmest decade on record, with the warmest six years all being since 2015. The WMO said that 2020 has been "yet another extraordinary year for our climate" with extreme temperatures, devastating wildfires, flooding, drought, and a record number of hurricanes.
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