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NEW ZEALAND NEWS HIGHLIGHTS

Updated 22 August 2019 
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14 August, 2019
Potatoes vs people: govt moves to protect top vege-growing land - NZ Herald link here

"Lifestyle blocks and new subdivisions will be far harder to develop on areas of rich soil under a new national policy statement on highly productive land unveiled for submissions by the government today.

... The policy seeks to deal with fears that if too much prime horticultural soil is lost to housing, it will reduce New Zealand's capacity to grow staple foods."
08 August, 2019
Doctors refute Fonterra's claim that cow's milk more environment friendly - Dominion Post Stuff link here

"Doctors have hit back at Fonterra's claim that cow's milk is better for the environment. They said that not only was the dairy industry more damaging to the environment, it also contributed to a number of human diseases, including a raised risk of cancer and allergies.

Fonterra's chief technologist, Dr Jeremy Hill, has said milk substitutes such as soy, almond, oat and rice have double the carbon emissions of Fonterra's milk produced in New Zealand, when compared on the basis of their nutrient content.

Speaking on behalf of a panel of three GPs who have formed the lobby group Evidence-Based Eating New Zealand, Wellington-based Dr Luke Wilson said Hill had been "mischievous" in quoting from a United States-Swedish study because it obscured the truth.  "For a start, the Swedish researchers worked for the dairy industry and the findings were published in a little read journal," Wilson said. He said the researchers created a formula combining a measure of nutritional density based on Nordic nutrition recommendations, with estimates of just the greenhouse gas emissions associated with each drink.

"Cow's milk has been shown to be three times worse for greenhouse gases but they then introduce the measure of nutrition content.  "The equation used in this study has however been criticised as biased and the finding questioned by other scientists in the field," Wilson said. He said dairy farming had an impact on the environment besides greenhouse gas emissions. Land, water, and fertiliser use, impact on soil and natural habitats, and, in the case of animal farming, effluent production, all had to be taken into account.  "Processed plant milks produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions, no effluent, and overall are better for the environment than cow's milk in every single aspect mentioned above."

Wilson acknowledged processed plant milk alternatives contained fewer nutrients than cow's milk but the nutrition provided by cow's milk was unnecessary and likely to be harmful. None of the nutrients contained in cow's milk are unique, they are all found in whole plant foods with the exception of vitamin B12, which is found in other animal products or can be supplemented. ..."

30 May, 2019
Budget NZ: $1b KiwiRail boost 'first step' to revitalise rail - Dominion Post Stuff website link here

"KiwiRail is set for a huge funding boost, with $1 billion in new money for trains, ferries and regional lines.

Budget 2019 also included a major additional cash injection for the Auckland City Rail Link, with more than $500 million to cover cost blow-outs and other changes to the project.

The Government rail funding is being described as "the first step" as the Government prepares to develop a national rail plan later this year, raising expectations for more large funding allocations in the future

"This funding will enable KiwiRail to become resilient and reliable through substantial investment in rail infrastructure, purchasing new locomotives and wagons, and beginning the process to replace the Interislander ferries," Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said. Peters holds the state owned enterprises portfolio."

24 May, 2019
Kiwi school students strike again for urgent action on climate change - Dominion Post "Stuff" link here

"Thousands of youngsters nationwide dropped pens for placards on Friday, calling for urgent action on climate change for the second time."

21 May, 2019
National supports climate change bill through first reading - Dominion Post Stuff website link here

"The National Party will support the Government's Zero Carbon Bill through first reading, but has serious concerns about the methane target in the bill.

Speaking during the first reading of the bill, National leader Simon Bridges said his party was supportive of the principles of the bill but National had "real differences" and expected to see change in select committee.

The Government's flagship climate change bill - technically an amendment to an earlier law - would force future governments to set a series of "carbon budgets" over the next 30 years, declining until all long-lived emissions reach net zero at 2050.

It passed its first reading on Tuesday afternoon 119-1, with just ACT opposing it. National's support is not needed for the bill to pass, but has been sought by the Government to signal bipartisan consensus for the country.

14 May, 2019
New Zealand's world-first ‘wellbeing’ budget to focus on poverty and mental health - The Guardian link here

"Country claims to be the first to measure success by people’s wellbeing

Child poverty, domestic violence and mental health will be the priorities in New Zealand’s “wellbeing budget”, the finance minister has announced, with the nation declaring itself the first in the world to measure success by its people’s wellbeing.

... Although comparable countries such as the UK have begun to measure the national rate of wellbeing, New Zealand is the first western country to design its entire budget around wellbeing priorities and instruct its ministries to design policies to improve wellbeing."

08 May, 2019
Zero Carbon Bill: Who supports it and who doesn't  - Dominion Post Stuff link here

"The Government has released more information around what's in its Zero Carbon Bill - so who supports it and who doesn't?

The Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill was introduced to Parliament on Wednesday.

In it, biological methane emissions will legally need to be reduced by at least 10 per cent by 2030 and between 24 and 47 per cent by 2050.

All other emissions would be reduced to "net zero" by 2050 to limit global warming increases to 1.5C.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the bill balanced the need to respond to climate change while not unfairly punishing agriculture.

"New Zealand is a food-producing nation. We have to become a sustainable food-production nation," she said.

Forest and Bird spokesman Geoff Keey said they were "strongly backing" the target to keep warming to no more than 1.5 degrees, because "this is the limit required to protect nature and people from the worst effects of climate change".

...However Keey said they were disappointed the draft legislation offered "special favours to the agricultural lobby".

The policy treats methane more softly than all other greenhouse gas emissions - but still mandates a large reduction.

"If agriculture doesn't play a bigger role in reducing warming, everyone else in New Zealand will have to work twice as hard. Climate change demands we do everything we can, not pick and choose," Keey said.

... Minister for Climate Change James Shaw has been negotiating with National for months to get bipartisan support. There has also been some negotiation within the Government, as NZ First has slowed the bill.

National leader Simon Bridges said the party was supportive of the general structure of the bill and of taking politics out of climate change, but had serious reservations about the methane target itself.

ACT's David Seymour has said he would oppose the bill. He said New Zealand would not prosper if forced to make significantly deeper emission cuts than its trading partners.

... Greenpeace executive director Dr Russel Norman said the bill had no ability to enforce its climate change targets.

It had no mechanism that would hold any person or body to account for not adhering to it, he said.

...The agricultural sector also wanted changes made around the bill's methane approach.

Beef and Lamb was "deeply concerned" over the proposed treatment of methane and targets and was calling for critical changes to the bill.

It wanted for a "fair approach" - where each gas was reduced based on its warming impact.

Although Dairy NZ supported much of the legislation, it wanted the target range around methane to be reviewed and aligned with the recommendations made by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

The Government expects to have the bill passed into law by the end of the year. It is set down for its first reading in late-May."

08 May, 2019
Landmark climate change bill goes to Parliament - NZ Government Press Release by Prime Minister Jacinda Adern - Beehive link here

"The Government is today delivering landmark action on climate change – the biggest challenge facing the international community and New Zealand.

“To address the long-term challenge of climate change, today we introduce the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill to Parliament,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

“We’ve built a practical consensus across Government that creates a plan for the next 30 years, which provides the certainty industries need to get in front of this challenge."

07 May, 2019
Several mayors 'unsure' whether human activities contribute to climate change - Stuff.co.nz link here

"Several New Zealand mayors are still reluctant to say they agree with the scientific consensus that human activities have an impact on climate change.

The Local Government Leaders' Climate Change Declaration has been signed by 59 mayors and regional council chairs. Nineteen are still yet to sign.

At less than three pages, the declaration is a short, vague document, with nothing in the way of specific targets or commitments.

The essential points are that those who sign it acknowledge that climate change exists, and ask central government to work with local government in both reducing and mitigating the effects. It doesn't outline any specific measures central government should take.

It also includes a handful of commitments for councils, which again are vague and don't include any specific criteria.

These include: promoting walking, cycling, and public transport, improving resource efficiency of homes and businesses, supporting renewable energy and electric vehicles, and working with central government to reduce emissions."

16 March, 2019
'Editorial: The climate must change' - NZ Herald link here

"Yes, we have gone big today on climate change.

Ugh, some readers will say.

Out come the tin foil hats and the pseudo-science.

So I'll type this slowly, because clearly some people are having trouble understanding this:

Climate change is real.

Humankind faces a real and imminent threat to not only our cushy way of life, but perhaps to our survival.

Two degrees of warming will be catastrophic, warns the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. We're on target for four-plus.

We have pumped more carbon into the atmosphere in 30 years than in our entire existence.

Within 10 years it could be too hot and humid to survive in some of the world's largest cities.

Sea levels are rising, millions of people will be displaced, hurricanes and heatwaves grow more intense and frequent ... do we lose the ability to grow crops before we take this seriously?"

16 March, 2019
Tens of thousands of school students demonstrate across NZ calling for action on climate change - Dominion Post "Stuff" link here

"From Southland to the Bay of Islands, tens of thousands of school pupils took to the streets today demanding action on climate change.

Around 40 demonstrations were planned in cities and towns across New Zealand as part of the international School Strike 4 Climate campaign.

Young people are calling on the Government to do more to reduce global warming before higher temperatures and rising sea levels have catastrophic consequences.

The student strike is the largest of its kind ever staged in New Zealand and organisers vowed more action is to follow."
15 March, 2019
'Climate change protestors outside Parliament' - NZ Herald link here
14 March, 2019
'Show us how it's done' - 22 leading NZ academics who back the School Strike 4 Climate' - NZ Herald link here

"Why should students strike over climate change tomorrow? Here, 22 of New Zealand's leading scientists and academics explain."

14 March, 2019
School Strike 4 Climate Action NZ - website link here

"We are striking from school to tell our politicians to take our futures seriously and treat climate change for what it is - a crisis.
They can show us that they care by taking urgent action to move New Zealand beyond fossil fuels and get the job done of moving us to 100% renewable energy for all!"

26 July, 2018
‘NZ 'complacent' over climate change’ - NZ Herald link here

“New Zealand's approach so far to climate change has been labelled "complacent" by a leading energy researcher.
Anna Berka, a research fellow at the University of Auckland's Energy Centre, says there has been a tendency by Kiwis to think New Zealand is too small to contribute to significant global change and can't afford to try.

"People regard the process as too expensive, that we should wait for other countries to develop the technology," she says. "This self-defeating narrative is repeated and reinforced by established industry players who dominate policy and media discourse."
She says our legacy and international standing in hydroelectric and geothermal power has, ironically, made us "complacent about putting in place" measures to help with climate change (New Zealand is the fourth largest generator of geothermal in the world, the energy accounting for about 16 per cent of our electricity needs)."

Although there has been targeted investment support from regional and national government for geothermal and electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure Berka says we must, and can, do much more.”

12 April, 2018
‘Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern bans new offshore oil and gas exploration in New Zealand’ - NZ Herald link here

“Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has banned future offshore oil and gas exploration in New Zealand. The only exploration likely to be contemplated by the new Government is on-shore exploration, limited to energy-rich Taranaki.

"We're protecting industry and protecting future generations from climate change," said Ardern.

"This is a responsible step, which provides certainty for businesses and communities that rely on fossil fuels."

The more than 30 existing permits, 22 for offshore oil and gas exploration, are unaffected by today's announcement, Energy Minister Megan Woods said. If those permits, which cover 100,000sq km are continued or taken up, exploration will continue for more than a decade.

Ardern and the ministers are expected to outline plans for their version of a managed transition towards a carbon-neutral economy by 2050 and a goal of achieving 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2035.”

18 December, 2017
‘Prime Minister announces formulation of Zero Carbon Act, climate change commission’  - NZ Herald link here
19 November, 2017
‘Fonterra's climate change fudge’ - Rod Oram newsrooom.co.nz link here

“At first glance, Fonterra made on Tuesday a massive pledge to tackle climate change.

...But those targets apply only to Fonterra’s own operations, which amount to only 10 percent of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions generated by its total supply chain. They do not cover the other 90 percent of its footprint, which is generated on-farm by its farmer-shareholders who supply more than 20 bn litres of milk a year to it.

...Fonterra still hasn’t got its head around climate change. One particular factor clouds its judgement. It says its farmers’ operations have an emissions intensity which is only half of the average for the global dairy industry. One of their great advantages is pastoral farming compared with feedlot farming among many of their competitors. But this is just the same argument that the Australian coal industry uses. It says its product has a future because it is higher quality and lower emissions than its competitors’. It’s even coined a name for it, HELE coal. This ignores the fact that all coal is facing strong and growing competition from zero emissions fuel, and from countries’ climate change policies. Such clean competition and regulatory pressures are only just emerging for dairy companies, but those will ramp up fast in the years ahead.

...pressure is building on some of our dairy competitors overseas to cut their emissions. The leader is California. It passed a law in September that requires its livestock industry to cut its emissions of methane, a highly potent GHG, by 40 percent of 2013 levels by 2030, with three-quarters of that reduction coming from dairy farms.

...we’re lagging far behind California overall. As a nation, our GHG emissions have risen by 21 percent since 1990, but California’s are nearly back to 1990 levels. By 2030, the state aims to cut its emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels. But we’re only aiming for an 11 percent cut.

Our international commitments are meaningless, though. On our current trajectory, we are missing them by miles.

Thus, Fonterra is playing a highly irresponsible and very risky game with its future and the country’s by trying to fudge its impact on climate change with its 10 percent solution.”

17 November, 2017
‘Urban sprawl and the land that keeps on giving’ - NZ Herald link here

" ...Scientists warn that populations here and around the world are growing so fast that it will curtail countries' ability to feed their own people. It may sound improbable, but they warn that urban sprawl could limit even New Zealand's ability to be self-sufficient in vegetables.  

...Contrary to popular belief, New Zealand does not have an abundance of rich soils. Most of it is class six - suitable for pasture or forestry, but not much else.

...Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman wants the 5.5 per cent of New Zealand's landmass that is used for fruit and vegetable production to be preserved. He says that since 2001, we've lost about 10,000ha of growing land - 6000ha for vegetables and 4000ha for fruit. That's an area just under the size of Hamilton. "What it's showing is that we are losing valuable land to houses and lifestyle blocks," Chapman says. "The problem with that is that it is very difficult to keep growing the same amount of vegetables to feed New Zealand at certain times of the year.

...Most of the vegetables grown in New Zealand are consumed here.

...While the majority of vegetables were grown near main centres 40-50 years ago, there is now more of a reliance on large food production hubs - Pukekohe, the Horowhenua and Canterbury.”

20 October, 2017
Reactions to Formation of a Labour, NZ First, and NZ Green Party Government

‘Jacinda Ardern becomes New Zealand's youngest woman leader’
- BBC News link here

‘How reluctant leader Jacinda Ardern charmed New Zealand’
-  The Guardian link here

‘Mike Hosking: Already a mess - we are all in trouble’
- NZ Herald Headline - NZ Herald link here

Mike Hosking was the host at the final leaders debate, a position that was opposed without success by a petition on the basis that he is “one of the most politically biased TV personalities in New Zealand ...”

01 September, 2017
Why are New Zealand's waters so polluted? - Aljazeera website link here

New Zealand's abundant rivers have been central to its reputation as a land of natural beauty – but are its waterways as sparkling as the tourist ads suggest?

31 August, 2017
What is the problem with New Zealand's water sources? - Aljazeera website link here

A look at how water pollution has become a major concern for the country

27 June, 2017
'Climate change court case:”The costs of inaction are terrifying’ - NZ Herald link here

"... Law student Sarah Thompson, 26, is suing the Government over its climate change targets, alleging it's not doing enough.
"Her lawyer, Davey Salmon, today argued in the High Court at Wellington that the National Government was looking for reasons to delay taking action...” - NZ Herald link here

28 March, 2017
‘Innovative bill protects Whanganui River with legal personhood’ - New Zealand Parliament website link here
29 November, 2016
'Revealed: NZ household's impact on climate change' - NZ Herald link here

"New Zealand's gross emissions per person were now fifth highest out of the 41 countries which set reduction targets under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, and our net emissions were the 14th highest."

21 July, 2015
New Zealand: ‘Climate Change Refugee’ Case Overview   - Library of Congress link here

"A New Zealand case involving an application for refugee status based on the effects of climate change in the Pacific Island nation of Kiribati has received media attention around the world.  The proceedings in the case came to a close in July 2015, when the Supreme Court of New Zealand, the highest court in the country, dismissed an application for leave to appeal the Court of Appeal’s decision in which it ruled against the applicant.

This report summarizes the decisions of the different courts that issued rulings in the case and provides information on other Australian and New Zealand cases that involved refugee claims based on the impacts of climate change in different countries.  Links to media articles and academic writings that include discussion of the New Zealand case are provided at the end of this report."

Download report here

19 June, 2015
'Pollution from dairy continues to grow' -NZ Herald link here
18 November, 2014
'Editorial: Quit cooling our heels on climate action' - NZ Herald link here
15 April, 2014
'NZ emissions accelerating' - NZ Herald link here
02 April, 2014
'The New Zealand Government opens eight areas for oil and gas exploration' - NZ Herald link here
10 December, 2012
'Kyoto pull-out 'economic mistake' - NZ Herald link here
04 December, 2012
'Groser defends ditching of Kyoto' - NZ Herald link here
12 November, 2012
'Key defends decision not to stick with Kyoto Protocol' - NZ Herald link here
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