In 2012, the Sustainability Council of New Zealand proposed that New Zealand should create a Climate Change Commission. Two years later, youth organisation Generation Zero published The Big Ask, a report that called for a new climate law.
In 2016, young people from Generation Zero took this a step further, launching the campaign for a new law to create a Climate Change Commission, set a 2050 target, and give Aotearoa a plan to get there: The Zero Carbon Act.
Then, in early 2017, Generation Zero asked WWF-New Zealand to formally endorse the Zero Carbon Act - and we did. Our supporters swung in behind this new law. Over the following three years, thousands of people and hundreds of businesses across Aotearoa signed petitions, wrote letters, made phone calls and met with government decision-makers.
In the last week before the Zero Carbon Act became law, we worked hard to secure cross party support. We met with key decision makers from major political parties, trying to navigate a compromise.
Thanks to the support of people nationwide, we delivered a petition signed by over 10,000 New Zealanders to Parliament 48 hours before the final vote in Parliament - and 5,000 of those 10,000 were our wonderful WWF supporters (thank you!).
Then, on the day of the final vote, we delivered an open letter calling for cross party support. Over 220 New Zealand businesses, community groups and leaders had signed the letter in just seven days!
Climate change is bigger than politics, so we called all political parties to come to the table and pass a new law to get New Zealand on track for a safe climate future, powered by 100% renewable, clean energy: the Zero Carbon Act.
We need to put climate change beyond short-term politics. The way to do this is by setting up an independent, expert watchdog with real standing and mana: the Climate Commission.
The Climate Commission will both provide expert advice on targets and policies to put New Zealand on track to a 100% renewable future, and to monitor the government’s progress to bring real transparency to government policies.
It's time to move beyond fossil fuels. The science tells us that we need to power New Zealand with 100% renewable, clean energy and bring our carbon pollution to zero if we want a safe climate future. Instead of kicking the problem on down the line, we need to set a long-term, 2050 goal now and make a plan to get there.
A goal is no good without a plan to get there. So we call for the new law to require government - with advice from the Climate Commission - to set legally-binding, enforceable five-year emissions budgets (a kind of target for cutting emissions) to put New Zealand on track for our 2050 goal of 100% renewable energy with zero carbon.
With the five-year budgets set, it will be up to government to make national plans to meet them.
We're not in uncharted territory here.
In 2008, the United Kingdom passed a Climate Change Act to establish a climate commission.
Since then, UK emissions have fallen by 28% - and Denmark, Finland, Mexico, Ireland, and several US states have passed similar acts.