Bolger challenges Ardern on environment promises

Former National Prime Minister Jim Bolger is challenging Jacinda Ardern to live up to her promises and deliver rapid progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Bolger says many people have been disappointed at the Government’s “timid response on Green issues” over the past three years, despite having the Green Party in Cabinet for the first time.

At the same time, however, NZ First acted as a handbrake on some of the Government’s key marine conservation commitments including the Kermadec Marine Sanctuary, cameras on fishing boats and banning new mines on public conservation land.

“Essentially we’ve done nothing apart from passing a Zero Carbon Act, and that had the support of the whole of Parliament. Moving to green vehicles and all that, none of that’s happened,” says Bolger. “And I’m sure that the green-leaning world will be very disappointed.”

It is now time to stand up and be counted, Bolger counsels Ardern.

“I think she should move on the policies she laid out three years ago. I’m looking particularly at reducing the pollution that our very large vehicle fleet is emitting; the government has control of a large number of those vehicles and they could make a difference starting tomorrow.”

Bolger is hopeful we’ll now start seeing faster progress on environmental issues. It’s not something we can stop with a vaccine – there isn’t one for climate change.

It will take “hard, difficult and often unpopular policy decisions,” says Bolger.

“We have to see whether the new government will want to face up to that.”

Greenpeace New Zealand’s Russel Norman agrees with Bolger’s assessment.

Norman, who is also a former Green Party leader, is concerned Labour might spend the next three years “watching their polling and taking no risks” because they don’t want to fall below 45-50 percent.

“This is a moment for transformation – we need action on climate change and biodiversity – a price on agricultural emissions, phasing out nitrogen fertiliser, transition to regenerative agriculture, cameras on boats, and end to bottom trawling and so much more. The numbers are there to take action and there are no more excuses for failing to take action.”

BERL research director Ganesh Nana wonders if Labour will give the Greens a role in government, given its majority.

“The Greens will probably want to be inside the tent; but it will remain to be seen how much the Ardern/Robertson leadership will view this as a mandate for change.

“Change with regard to climate policy and inequality will be on the table. This is the Covid opportunity – the question for now will be how much of this mandate will be used.”


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