New Zealand’s new Prime Minister elect, Jacina Ardern, is not wasting time to commit to fighting climate change. With the help of her coalition government, Ardern has set a target for New Zealand to become a zero-carbon nation by the year 2050. This includes promises to reduce overall carbon emissions and to offset what remains with international carbon credits and tree planting.
“I believe that this will be a government of change,” Ardern said Friday at a press conference after her first caucus meeting. “We have found allies in this parliament who wish to join with us in building a fairer New Zealand. A country where our environment is protected.”
Battling climate change is a topic of great importance to the people of New Zealand, one that crosses party lines. The move is part of a potential surge in the number of countries moving toward carbon neutrality.
Other nations have recently made similar pledges. Sweden passed a law early this summer to become carbon neutral by 2045. Not to be outdone, Norway has pledged carbon neutrality by 2030. Other nations, like the North American countries, have made promises to significantly curb carbon emissions within the next few decades, but stop short of pledging carbon neutrality.
Scotland has pledged to become independent from fossil fuels as an energy source by 2020. Granted, this is a different pledge than making the entire country carbon neutral, but it will offset a great deal of carbon emissions for the country.
New data published by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (NEAA) shows some promise that the fight against climate change is working. The evidence indicates that CO2 emissions remained static in 2016.
Of course, this is not a signal that we should hoist a victory banner. On the contrary, it is proof that we can still make a difference — and should continue to do so. National pledges to become zero-carbon are great first steps, yet we must hold our leaders accountable to make good on those promises.