Keep your ‘green pledges’, NZ ecology groups warn key political leaders

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Supergroup's open letter to the political leaders: “Environmental issues were at the centre of the 2017 election campaign. No matter who ends up in government, they will have a clear mandate and a responsibility to take action on fresh water, climate change, and conservation." Image: wwf.org.nz

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

A “supergroup” of New Zealand environmental organisations has sent an open letter to the leaders of four key political parties, warning them that the public expects them to deliver on election commitments.

Following the so-called “environment election”, seven environmental groups have delivered their strong message to the incumbent centre-right National’s leader Bill English, centre-left Labour’s Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand First’s Winston Peters and Green Party’s James Shaw as they prepare to negotiate the country’s next coalition government.

While the open letter congratulates the parties and politicians for their election success last weekend, it reminds them about their commitments to improve the state of New Zealand’s environment.

The group said there was now a strong public expectation that there would be clear gains for freshwater, the climate and conservation in the next three years. It has pledged to hold future leaders to their promises.

The letter offers politicians help in achieving those key gains.

“Environmental issues were at the centre of the 2017 election campaign,” the open letter said.

-Partners-

“No matter who ends up in government, they will have a clear mandate and a responsibility to take action on fresh water, climate change, and conservation.

“And they should know that we will be right there to make sure they do.”

The signatories to the open letter are Ecologic, Environmental Defence Society, Fish and Game New Zealand, Forest and Bird, Generation Zero, Greenpeace NZ, and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF-New Zealand).

The open letter says:
29 September 2017

Rt. Hon. Bill English
Leader, National Party
Jacinda Adern MP
Leader, Labour Party

Rt. Hon. Winston Peters
Leader, New Zealand First Party

James Shaw MP
Co Leader, Green Party

Dear Party leaders,
A winner in this year’s election was the New Zealand environment. It featured as a bigger concern amongst the electorate than ever before. All of you through your party manifestos made commitments to improve the state of our environment. We congratulate you for those promises.

As environmental leaders, we wish to offer our congratulations to all parties and to both sitting and new MPs for their election success. We also wish to acknowledge those parties and MPs who are departing Parliament and thank them for their work.

There is now a strong public expectation that whichever parties form the next government, there must be clear gains for fresh water, the climate and conservation in the next three years.

We offer our help in achieving these gains:

FRESHWATER
It is clear that ecologically healthy freshwaters, and the ability of New Zealanders to safely swim in their rivers and lakes, will be a key measure of environmental success for the new Government. This can only be achieved if government facilitates and supports a transformation of the primary sector toward new, environmentally-friendly land uses and practices, coupled with tougher regulation and market signals which reflect the true costs of resource use.

CLIMATE
There must be a more structured and transparent approach to tackling the greatest challenge of our time – climate change. New Zealand’s emissions have continued to climb and we need an ambitious plan on how to reduce them. Transformative change is required through a new law to establish a statutory carbon budgeting process overseen by an independent Climate Commission to plan, monitor and report on the transition to net zero by 2050. Anything less betrays this and future generations.

CONSERVATION
The jewels in the crown of our national identity are the unique species which inhabit our lands, waters and wild places. We need the new Government to institute real measures to protect and enhance the viability of our precious species. This includes the health of the diverse and invaluable terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems that sustain both them and valued introduced species. An increase in funding of DOC’s core budget must be a key component in that strategy.

These issues, and the many others that fall under the umbrella of “environment”, are at the heart of the richness of our quality of life in New Zealand, and underpin our international reputation. They are also at the core of a genuinely sustainable future and are therefore true legacy issues. The natural world is our home and there are few greater gifts we can bestow our children than a vibrant, vital and healthy natural world.

We promise to continue our strong advocacy for the environment and look forward to working with all political parties, both in the next government and in the opposition, to achieve positive gains for our environment.

Yours sincerely

Kevin Hague
Forest and Bird

Russel Norman
Greenpeace New Zealand

Livia Esterhazy
WWF New Zealand

Bryce Johnson
Fish & Game New Zealand

Gary Taylor
Environmental Defence Society

Guy Salmon
Ecologic

Lisa McLaren
Generation Zero

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