Missed opportunity but NZ will surely one day recognise the right to a sustainable environment

New Zealand has today missed the opportunity to uphold the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment, says James Shaw after his member’s bill was voted down in its first reading. 

“Today Parliament chose to vote against progress - but I am confident New Zealand will eventually honour and uphold the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.

“This  Bill was based on the internationally recognised  right to an environment capable of sustaining human life, and that this is so fundamental to society that it should be recognised as a standalone human right and enshrined into law,” says James Shaw.

“New Zealand voted in favour of an historic UN resolution in 2022, confirming that everyone, everywhere has the right to live in a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. The coalition Government’s vote against my Bill today is inconsistent with the position that we take internationally.

“This legislation would have required Parliament to uphold this right. That would in turn mean considering and squarely confronting, the impacts of new legislation on our climate commitments, environment, and future generations. 

“Clearly the coalition Government is going in the other direction. They are seeking to repeal, unwind and override nearly forty years of environmental protections, sideline the Climate Change Commission and fast-track a string of environmentally degrading projects.

“The window of opportunity to preserve or restore what little remains of the wildernesses and wildlife, the forests and rivers and oceans and air that we depend on for our very survival, is closing fast.

“The right to a sustainable environment has already been recognised by many countries at national and regional levels. Today’s decision from the Government means that New Zealand will remain part of an ever-shrinking minority of countries that do not. That will eventually change, when the Greens are back in government,” says James Shaw. 

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