The National Government should aim to be as proud of the environment as we are of the All Blacks, the Green Party said today.
However, the release of last week’s dire Environment Aotearoa 2015 report shows the state of New Zealand’s environment under the National Government is nothing to be proud of.
“New Zealand is proud of the All Blacks’ persistence, determination, courage and compassion. All these qualities are sadly missing from National’s attitude to the environment,” said Green Party environment spokesperson Eugenie Sage.
“If we were playing for the world cup of dirty rivers, we’d be winners – nearly half have enough nitrogen to trigger potentially toxic algal blooms.
“We have communities, farmers, school children, volunteers and iwi all over the country working hard to conserve our species, nurture our green spaces, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and clean up our rivers, while the Government undermines that by exploiting the environment for short-term gain.
“Findings in the Environment Aotearoa report are indicative of the Government’s hands-off approach to the environment, which has led to the degradation of our rivers, rising greenhouse gas emissions, and loss of many native seabirds and marine mammals.
“Minister for the Environment Nick Smith made ridiculous comments about his Government’s poor management of rivers, saying even before human habitation rivers in New Zealand were not safe for swimming.
“The report’s one win was in air quality – this is the result of a strong regulatory response by successive governments. If the Government were to apply this strategy to other areas of environmental concern, it can lift New Zealand’s performance.
“Agriculture is responsible for nearly half of our greenhouse gas emissions, which have risen in total by 42 per cent since 1990. Yet the Government has no plan to reduce emissions and is promising only weak reduction targets that will do nothing to prevent temperature rises.
“Only 55 Maui’s dolphins are left in the world, but the Government refuses to secure their habitat off the west coast of New Zealand.
“The Green Party will invest in pest control on conservation land to protect our species, and in more marine sanctuaries. We will tighten water standards, and stop the continued dairy intensification that is penalising our waterways.
“We have also created a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent of 1990 levels, the goal required to keep the earth’s temperature from rising to an untenable level,” Ms Sage said.