MPs will next week vote on whether or not Parliament should declare climate emergency
Parliament will next week debate if a climate emergency in New Zealand should be declared, Leader of the House Chris Hipkins has told MPs. Speaking in the House after the Speech from the Throne, Hipkins said that the motion will be debated next Tuesday. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will personally introduce the motion next week, according to a spokesman. Speaking to reporters on her way to the House this afternoon, Ardern said Labour has always considered climate change to be "a huge threat to our region". "[It's] something we must take immediate action on." But she said the previous Government was unable to declare a climate emergency in the last term. However, she said the Government is now able to. It is understood there was never an official Government motion as it was blocked by Labour's coalition partners, New Zealand First. Pressed on this, Ardern wouldn't say. Declaring a climate change emergency is not, in and of itself, tangibly do anything it's more of a signal towards doing more for the climate. "A declaration is just that," Ardern said. She said it will be up to the Government to demonstrate in its actions how it can make progress. This is not the first time Parliament has attempted to pass such a motion. In May last year, Green Party MP Chloe Swarbrick attempted to pass a motion in the House declaring an emergency but it was torpedoed by National. As Swarbrick is a non-executive member of Parliament not a minister her motion was able to be shot down with as little as one vote against it. But if the motion is brought about by a government minister as it appears it will be by Hipkins there is a normal vote. As the House is majority Labour with the support of the Greens the motion is highly likely to pass. Speaking to the Herald, Swarbrick said she was pleased the motion was being brought to the House by the Government. "Continued advocacy by grassroots climate activists got this on the agenda and committed to, by most parties, during the election campaign." She said the Greens were very much looking forward to the progression of this declaration, which she expects to pass next week. Ardern said at the time of the first climate change emergency last year that the Government had voted in favour of the motion because "we see this as an urgent issue". "We're not opposed to the idea of declaring an emergency in Parliament. "Certainly I would like to think our policies and our approach demonstrates that we do see it as an emergency." Act Leader David Seymour said that the Government's motion will amount to nothing more than a "marketing stunt that won't stop a tonne of emissions". "If you have to declare an emergency, maybe your policy isn't working." But National voted down the motion as it was just "Green Party symbolism", according to then-climate change spokesman Todd Muller. He said National would be unlikely to vote to declare a climate change emergency until there was a proper plan in place and it wasn't just "the Green Party waving its flag". In the time since the Greens first made the motion in 2019, there have been a number of protests outside of Parliament, urging the Government to declare a climate emergency. Many councils around the country have already done so, as have many Governments in other countries around the world. The UK, Ireland, Canada, and France have all declared climate emergencies and more than 50 New Zealand scientists have called for a declaration of a national climate emergency. It's been 22 years since the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre in New York.