Sustainable Policy Surges into the Political Mainstream

Article excerpt

In the post year all the main political parties have made sustainability a mainstream policy, driven in part by the need to respond to climate change.

Research conducted by the Business Council shows 86% of New Zealanders wont a multi-party policy agreement on climate change to provide greater certainty for businesses and others making long-term decisions.

LABOUR: The need to behave sustainably was driven to centre stage first by the Prime Minister, Helen Clark, in her 28 October 2006 speech to the Labour Party's annual conference. She reflected on the British Environment Secretary's view that the United Kingdom is living as if there were three planets to support us, not one. "So are we. That can't go on. The issues have come to a head with the climate change crisis."

The PM said New Zealand's net deficit position with Kyoto climate change credits had sent the Government back to the drawing board to look for more comprehensive strategies: "Now policy decisions, proposals, and initiatives to help us pull our weight on climate change and on sustainability more broadly are pouring out--on everything from solar heating and fuel efficiency in the transport fleet, to afforestation and sustainable land use. I believe it's time to be bold in this area.

"Why shouldn't New Zealand aim to be the first country which is truly sustainable--not by sacrificing our living standards, but by being smart and determined? We can now move to develop more renewable energy, biofuels, public transport alternatives, and minimise, if not eliminate, waste to landfills. We could aim to be carbon neutral."

NATIONAL: National launched its Blue Green Vision document in late 2006, looking at ideas ranging from a $1 billion environment fund, creating a new environmental protection agency, updating the building code to emphasise energy efficiency, blending biodiesel into fuel, incentives for more fuel efficient vehicles, to introducing carbon trading, starting with the energy generators.

In May, National Party Leader John Key announced a policy target to cut carbon equivalent net emissions to 50% of 1990 levels, by 2050.

"National's '50 by 50' target will send a clear message to the world: New Zealand means business on climate change. …