Consideration of the climate crisis will be front and center in all of New Zealand‘s major policy decisions. The new rule means that any new proposal before the government that aims either to reduce emissions or has a collateral damage effect of raising emissions will need to go through a climate-impact assessment before it can be considered, according to The Guardian.
The coalition cabinet of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern already takes into account the effects the government’s decisions will have on human rights, the Treaty of Waitangi, rural communities, the disability community and gender equality.
Climate Change Minister James Shaw, also the co-leader of the Greens Party, said this goes one step further since it applies to all government decisions, not just new laws, according to Stuff in New Zealand.
“Ensuring ministers are aware of the implications a decision may have for New Zealand’s future greenhouse gas emissions will be vital to ensuring we all playing our part in meeting the commitments we’ve made,” said Shaw as Stuff reported.
Shaw spearheaded a zero-carbon bill that passed the parliament last month, making New Zealand one of the first countries to write its climate crisis targets into law. The law requires the country to produce net-zero emissions by 2050. The prime minister has made the climate crisis a top priority for her government and called it her generation’s “nuclear free moment,” as The Guardian reported.
“Decisions we take now and in the future about everything from the places we live, to how we get around, to public health, to how we relate to one another will be impacted one way or another by climate change,” said Shaw in a statement, as The Guardian reported. “It’s crucial therefore that when we’re making big decisions climate change is at the forefront of our minds.”
Shaw said that the Ministry for the Environment has developed a methodology to estimate emissions impacts, called the Climate Implications of Policy Assessment. The efficacy of its tool will be reviewed in mid-2020, according to The Guardian.
Shaw also noted that the new rule is part and parcel with a new framework for the next 30 years to reduce, similar to a series of bills 30 years ago that encouraged low inflation and low government debt, according to Stuff.
Touting the Climate Implications of Policy Assessment, Shaw said, “Government makes many decisions all the time. Many but not all of those decisions will have an affect on climate change. With infrastructure – you make a decision on a piece of infrastructure with a 30 or 40-year lifespan and you’ve suddenly locked in a certain emissions path. We want to be aware of that.”
“It’s crucial that when we’re making big decisions, climate change is at the forefront of our minds,” he added, as Stuff reported. “I’m delighted that we’ve developed a tool for the whole government to easily assess whether policies we’re considering at Cabinet will increase or reduce the emissions that impact on New Zealanders’ quality of life in decades to come.”