ANGLICAN SOCIAL JUSTICE GROUP Submission on the Zero Carbon Amendment Bill


15 July 2019

Submission on the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill

To: the Committee Secretariat, 
Environment Select Committee
Parliament Buildings 
Wellington 6160

From: The Anglican Diocese of Auckland Social Justice Group of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand  and Polynesia.

We DO wish to speak to this Bill if the Select Committee comes to Auckland.
Contact Person: David Hall

Our interest in this Bill is because we, as the Social Justice Group of the Tikanga-Pakeha Diocese of Auckland, are committed to the five-fold Mission Statement of the Anglican Communion and in particular “seek to transform unjust structures of society “and “to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth”. 

 (I) To proclaim the good news of the Kingdom;
(ii) To teach, baptise and nurture new believers;
(iii) To respond to human needs by loving service;
(iv) To seek to transform unjust structures of society; 
(v) To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation & sustain & renew the life of the earth 

In addition, the Global Anglican Communion at a meeting of its highest governance body, the Anglican Consultative Council  (ACC) in Hong Kong in April 2019 passed the following motion on Climate Change:

1. recognises that there is a global climate emergency
2. affirms that the Fifth Mark of Mission is clear, ‘To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth’, but that it only becomes a living testament to our faith when it is pursued in an integrated way across all five Marks of Mission
3. calls the Member Churches of the Anglican Communion to use a day during the Season of Creation, for a day of public repentance
4. requests every Member Church to develop an action plan, and resources, for sustainable living at individual, parish, diocesan and provincial level; including, but not limited to, policies and procedures to minimise waste, increase use of renewable energies, and incorporate creation care into liturgical practice
5. requests each Member Church to prepare a Lenten Fast for Creation
6. encourages the Lambeth Conference 2020 to set aside a time of repentance for the climate and environmental crisis
7. encourages Lambeth Conference 2020 participants to utilise carbon offset arrangements in their travel plans 
8. encourages each Member Church to hold a strategic planning conference on the Sustainable Development Goals and Climate Change, ensuring the involvement of Indigenous, young, and women’s voices, and to report back to ACC18
9. asks Member Churches to identify environmental and climate-related threats in their context and to develop or adapt existing tools on disaster preparedness and mitigation.

1. General Comments in support of the Bill:

We support this Bill as a first step to addressing the potential disaster that awaits us as a nation, and as the world, if we do nothing and continue to pour more and more greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. We are pleased that the Government has decided to use the 1.5 degrees C as the target rather than 2 degrees. But we are aware that even a 1.5-degree rise will have an adverse impact on our country and the world by 2050 and an even more adverse impact by the end of the century. The long-term aim of New Zealand and the world must be to reduce the total amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, not just stop the increase.

2. Functions of the Climate Change Commission

We overall support the functions of the Climate Change Commission as detailed in the Bill. It would be inappropriate and potentially harmful for the Commission to have an executive power. Its roll is advisory. We strongly support the requirement in clause 5K 4 that any advised the Commission gives to the Minister must be publicly available although we would ask that the word “immediately” be added between “available” and “after”. This should also apply to subsequent clauses requiring the publication of information by the Commission or the Minister,

We also suggest that the likely effects of all types of recommendation include the impact of not acting.

Clause 5R 1 gives the Minister 12 months to respond to any recommendation of the Commission. In view of the urgency for action this is far too long a period for governments to prevaricate. We suggest the period be reduced to 3 months maximum.

Clause 5ZA requires publication of emissions budgets after consultation with all political parties in the House of Representatives but puts no time limit on the response from political parties. We recommend that a time limit of 2 months be added and also a requirement that if a political party fails to agree to a particular budget the nature and reasons for their disagreement be made public.

Clause 5XL allow Ministers to issue guidance to departments but fails to require a department to follow the guidance. We suggest that the issue is so important that if the Minister issues guidance to a department then the department should be required to follow that guidance.

3. Separate targets for Carbon Dioxide and Methane.

Whilst we understand the reasons for having separate targets for Carbon Dioxide and Methane, this does raise some concerns:

  • The target of zero net emissions of Carbon Dioxide by 2050 is in line with recommendations from the IPCC reports and the Paris Agreement however we strongly recommend that an addition target be added for 2030  that 50% of the reductions needed to reach the zero emissions target be achieved.  This will be a very valuable monitor of progress towards the Zero emissions target. If all the emission reduction happens in the last few years of the period, it is very likely that the 1.5degree rise will be exceeded.
  • We note the inclusion of a target for methane reduction by 2030 of 10% but are concerned about the wide range of the target for 2050 of 24% to 47% by 2050. The very wide range of this target is of concern as we would have thought a more specific target should be set. 
  • We are also concerned that the base for methane is 2017 emissions. New Zealand has seen a very fast rise in methane emissions over the last 30 years which needs to be reversed. Methane in the atmosphere has an impact on Climate Change for a shorter time than other Greenhouse Gases, maybe as short as 25 years, but it still contributes very significantly to global warming and needs to be addresses quickly.

4. Contrasts between the Explanatory Note and the wording of the Bill.

There are a number of statements in the Introduction to the Bill that are either not mentioned in the Bill itself or are different including

  • The first paragraph of the Note states that the aim is to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels yet for all gases except Methane the reference point is 1990 and for methane 2017. This implies that there was not temperature rise caused by these gases from the late 1700s until 1990.  
  • Paragraph 2 of the Note says the “overarching purpose represents………just mentioned as factors that the Commission must take into account when making recommendations to the Minister. Climate Change will have much greater impact on the poor both worldwide as well as in New Zealand, the impact of not acting will be very much to the disadvantaged of the poor. Furthermore, the rich 1% have contributed significantly more to Climate Change and will continue to do so. They also gain, at least in the short term, from not acting on Climate Change.
  • In the first paragraph of the Introduction it is indicated that “The overarching purpose represents a balance of the guiding principles agreed by Cabinet to frame the development of climate change policy: leadership at home and abroad; a productive, sustainable, and climate-resilient economy; and a just and inclusive society”, however there is no mention of a just and inclusive society anywhere in the Bill. We believe that it is vital that this be included as an overarching purpose of the Commission. Furthermore, we recognize that Climate Change is an intergenerational justice issue and provision needs to be made for the voice of young people. who will be most affected by Climate Change, to be heard and listened too.  

5. Beyond 2050

Even if, as a world community, we are successful in limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees by 2050 that will not be the end of the crisis. The science indicates that there will be significant negative impacts on life on our planet after a 1.5 degree rise. 

We suggest that there be provisions in the Bill to continue the work of emissions reduction particularly as it is possible that even if a “zero carbon” situation is achieved by 2050 there is the possibility of further global warming beyond 1.5 degrees.

Thank you for considering our submission and we look forward ot the opportunity of sharing our concerns in person on this issue that is vital to life on our planet.

David Hall

Auckland Anglican Diocese Social Justice Group

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