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Debate on GLOBE NZ “Net Zero in New Zealand” report


Dr KENNEDY GRAHAM (Green): I move, That the House note the report entitled Net Zero in New Zealand: Scenarios to achieve domestic emissions neutrality in the second half of the century prepared by Vivid Economics on behalf of GLOBE-NZ. I seek leave to table the report.

Mr SPEAKER: I think this is a significant moment; I will certainly put the leave to the House, but I do acknowledge that it has been well distributed. Leave is sought to table that particular GLOBE-NZ report. Is there any objection to it being tabled? There is not. It can be tabled.

Dr KENNEDY GRAHAM (Green): The debate this afternoon marks the end of the Vivid Economics project and the beginning of something new in New Zealand climate policy. I thank all the members of GLOBE-NZ for their collegial engagement, especially the executive committee of the Hon Peter Dunne, Marama Fox, Tracey Martin, Scott Simpson, and Dr Megan Woods. I give appreciation, of course, to the Minister and to yourself, Mr Speaker, for your high levels of interest and support.

The Vivid Economics report reflects unprecedented cross-party collaboration. It provides an opportunity for developing an ambitious pathway to domestic emissions neutrality as called for in the Paris Agreement. Nothing is more critical to the fate of New Zealand and the well-being of future generations. I think the very fact that this debate is being held testifies to that.

May I pay tribute to the Vivid Economics team in London: John Ward, Alex Kazaglis, and Paul Sammon who now know New Zealand better than they ever dreamt they would. I also pay tribute to their broader team in London as well, and, of course, the donors here in New Zealand for making it possible, and may I single out Sir Stephen Tindall, who led in that respect. Finally, I pay tribute to Catherine Leining, our Wellington-based consultant, to whom we all owe a huge vote of thanks.

James Shaw will convey the Green Party's initial views on the report itself. I shall confine myself to a broader observation which is, perhaps, more a Green perspective on the shared vision that is GLOBE-NZ. I do so because only weeks after its release and with an election ahead we must nonetheless ask ourselves where to from here?

The report identifies four scenarios for achieving emissions neutrality, three of which would achieve the goal in the second half of the century as the Paris Agreement calls for. We shall no doubt be discussing with our cross-party group which of these, or which combination of them, might have the most policy merit. For, ultimately, we need to move from scenarios to policy.

The tectonic tension in this respect will be over two broad considerations: the speed with which we must move, on the one hand, and the need for economic stability and distributional justice as we go—the imperative of urgency and the art of transition. We shall all have our views. From my personal perspective I think the following: I have been working on climate change since 1989. The first Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report of 1990 and the Rio Convention of 1992 made clear the consequences of dangerous climate change and the need to avoid it. Since then our annual global emissions have risen hugely and so have our national emissions. We have lost a quarter of a century through largely ineffectual old-style negotiations, which we pursue in short-term, competitive, zero-sum style. That is not the way to solve 21st-century global commons problems.

I say this more in sorrow than in anger. We are where we are. But it leaves us with a far higher gradient of challenge than when we started and we have very little time left. It was only yesterday that Christiana Figueres, former UN climate head and now UN climate ambassador, identified 2020 as the year in which global carbon emissions must peak for the two degree goal in the Paris Agreement to be realised.

So where to from here for New Zealand? I believe the report will be invaluable throughout the country and in facilitating cross-party policy debate—in particular, I hope that we can pursue in more depth the challenge posed in scenario four of the report: neutrality by 2050. I know this will be difficult, but I know it, also, to be an imperative.

And we should pursue the broader challenge – to place domestic neutrality in the context of New Zealand's overall national responsibility level within the finite and diminishing global carbon budget.

So let us to continue our discussions informally around the table and see how far and how fast we can proceed blending short-term and longer term responsibilities – because ultimately, they are one and the same; and ultimately, we are all in this extraordinary saga together.