Climate change amendment bill 'unenforceable, problematic' - says Greenpeace New Zealand leader

The Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill has been touted by the Government as a landmark piece of legislation which lays out how New Zealand will do its part in the battle to save the planet.

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Greenpeace Aotearoa NZ CEO Russell Norman told Breakfast why he wasn’t impressed by the Government’s climate change policy. Source: Breakfast

However, not everyone is impressed by the new bill, with critics saying there is no way to enforce the 30-year climate change policy.

"I think if you were to be generous to [the bill], you would say it's setting a direction for New Zealand, and that's important," Greenpeace Aotearoa New Zealand executive director Russell Norman said on TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning.

However, the former Greens co-leader added that the bill's targets were "unenforceable."

"A plan that has targets that are, in law, unenforceable - the law's very clear on that, there's no policies to meet those targets - it's obviously quite problematic.

"They've made it very clear – it's like saying the speed limit is 50km/h, then the next line says that no one is allowed to enforce the speed limit. The next part is you can go get a declaration, it’s called, but a declaration has no weight – you can't force the Government to do anything.

"You can't go to a court and make the Government do it. If a Government department does something completely inconsistent with the targets, you can't come back to them and judicially review them … the purpose of that is to prevent action on climate change."

He added: "I think we need to just be very clear with ourselves – [the bill] is not climate action."

Mr Norman said it was "public power, public pressure" which helps create change, rather than the Government's enforcement of new legislations.

He said the Government's banning of oil and gas exploration here "was a result very much of public power, public pressure" as well as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's williness to "spend some political capital on it."

"That people power element is essential and people shouldn't think that somehow, this, the Government now has this under control.

"These targets are not enforceable – there’s no plan to achieve them. The only thing that’s gonna deliver it is people power."

Mr Norman added that it was important that the Government doesn't "mislead people" through the bill’s label as "climate action."

"I think the key thing is we don't mislead people … They've been calling it climate action – it's not. Action will only happen now if people really mobilise and put pressure on politicians."

However, Climate Change Minister and Greens co-leader James Shaw explained that the bill is “an overarching piece of legislation – it's got to interact with everything else the Government does."

"It's kind of like baking a cake and building the kitchen at the same time," Mr Shaw said on TVNZ1’s Breakfast this morning.

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James Shaw joined Breakfast to discuss criticisms of the Government’s zero carbon bill. Source: Breakfast

"There will be a lot of decisions that different parts of Government have to make as a result of this, but we're not waiting to get started, so things like ending off-shore oil and gas; $14.5 billion that we've devoted to rapid transit and rail; the billion trees programme – those are all things that are part of our overall programme of action on climate change."