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Judith Collins dismisses PM's climate emergency declaration as 'somewhat virtue signalling'

National Party leader Judith Collins is calling the Government's decision to declare a climate emergency in New Zealand "somewhat virtue signalling", criticising a lack of plans to tackle the issue.

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The National Party leader says the Government is declaring the motion without any plan on what to do about climate change. Source: 1 NEWS

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern intends to put forward a motion to declare a climate emergency today.

"What it actually means for us is that it sends a very clear signal into the public sector around the priority that we place on climate action, mitigation and adaptation," Ardern said on Monday.

"It does send that strong message around where we place our priorities as a Government."

However, this morning on TVNZ1's Breakfast, Collins said the Government could be doing more than just declaring an emergency.

"If it's such an emergency why wasn't it done yesterday?" she said.

"We take climate change very seriously and our view very clearly is that just declaring an emergency with no plan as to what to do is actually somewhat virtue signalling rather than actually just having a proper plan."

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The Prime Minister intends to put forward a motion to declare a climate emergency this week. Source: 1 NEWS

Collins suggested the Government could instead electrify it's own car fleet.

"They said they were going to and they've got, what, about 18 or something cars that are electric. There's a lot more they could be doing."

A spokesperson for Minister for Climate Change James Shaw said there are 146 EVs in the Government fleet.

“Declaring a climate emergency is a clear statement of the Government’s intent to address the climate crisis.

“It will build on the significant progress we made last term putting in place one of the world’s most ambitious frameworks for long-term, meaningful climate action.

“The only way to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis and build a zero carbon New Zealand that meets the needs of everyone, is to take action.

“Over the next three years the Government will develop policy to ensure the declaration is backed with action to bring emissions down.

“Every part of Government will have an important role to play in this.”

Collins said there could be less coal being used for generating electricity. 

"Partly that's to do with the lack of supply of natural gas during the winter, so more coal being used rather than natural gas is not good.

"Also there's some things they could be doing around some of the hydro, but also little hydro projects. There's also some around some of the geothermal projects they could be doing. They could be actually be getting things consented faster and doing them as part of their fast-tracking of consents."

Collins said National's climate spokesperson, Stuart Smith, was passionate about the issue and would be speaking at today's debate.