New Zealand lawmakers Thursday passed a “Zero Carbon” bill that it hopes will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to a near-neutral level by 2050.
The legislation, which was supported on both sides of the political divide, mandates that in 40 years’ time, the country should produce no greenhouse gases, except methane, as part of the country’s efforts to meet its Paris climate accord commitments.
The bill has different regulations for methane emissions from animals versus other greenhouse gases, due to farming’s important role in bringing in foreign income. However, it still aims to cut 10% of biological methane by 2030, and up to 47% by 2050.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said countries are not moving fast enough when it comes to combating climate change.
“We’re here because our world is warming. Undeniably it is warming,” Ardern said. “And so therefore the question for all of us is what side of history will we choose to sit on.”
The bill also establishes an independent Climate Change Commission to advise the government on how to achieve its targets and to produce “carbon budgets” every five years informing how many emissions will be allowed in that period.
The government has also pledged it will plant 1 billion trees over 10 years and ensure that the electricity grid runs entirely from renewable energy by 2035.
“This…is the centerpiece for meaningful climate change action in New Zealand,” said Minister for Climate Change James Shaw, the leader of the Green party, which is in coalition with Ardern’s Labour.
Lawmakers had received 11,000 submissions and heard from a cross-section of society, from students and scientists to farmers and activists, Shaw added.