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Green Party win: RMA amended to include climate change

Written By: - Date published: 7:05 am, June 28th, 2020 - 15 comments
Categories: climate change, greens - Tags:

Well done the Greens.

Green Party press release.

Another Green win as climate change considerations inserted into the RMA

The Green Party is thrilled to see changes to the Resource Management Act (RMA) that mean consents for large projects can be declined if they will have significant climate change implications that are inconsistent with the Zero Carbon Act and Aotearoa New Zealand’s Paris Agreement obligations.

Previously, under the RMA, climate change could not be considered. This loophole resulted in a process where decision-makers could not decline large climate-polluting projects, even if they thought the climate impacts were problematic and should be considered.

These changes are part of the Resource Management Amendment Bill which passed into law tonight.

“We’ve long called out this loophole that allowed the consenting of things like coal mines and fossil fuel power plants, without consideration of their impact on the climate.” Green Climate Change spokesperson James Shaw said today.

“The late Jeanette Fitzsimons had a member’s bill on this and campaigned long and hard, right up until last year. She, and other former and current Green MPs, particularly Gareth Hughes, raised this as an ongoing problem that needed solving.

“We are so glad in Government to have got it sorted. This aligns with our net zero carbon ambitions and will ultimately result in a safer planet for future generations.

“In my view, this is one of the most significant policy changes to address climate change that we have done this term”.

The changes will come into effect when government has developed national policy guidelines.

Idiot/Savant at No Right Turn on the political context,

Climate Change: Repealed

One of the big problems with climate change policy is that the government has refused to let local authorities use our major piece of environmental regulation to reduce emissions. Since 2003, local bodies have been explicitly forbidden from considering the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions in their planning documents, and in consent decisions. But now, those restrictions have been repealed:

Coal mines and fossil fuel power plants could be a thing of the past in New Zealand after the Government passed a law which allows environmentally-damaging projects to be refused.

The amendment to the Resource Management Act closes a loophole which allowed consent for new builds without consideration for the environment.

Sadly, this part of the law won’t come into effect until 2022, so there’s far too much time for dirty polluting infrastructure to be consented and its emissions locked in before then. Also, the parallel provision in the EEZ Act is still in place, so we’ll still have the ludicrous situation of the EPA being forbidden to consider climate change impacts when deciding whether to consent new gas wells. But hopefully that will now become a priority for repeal.

The government will supposedly be developing a National Policy Statement on climate change to guide local authorities and their plans. They’ve been promising that since at least the mid-1990’s and the Stratford Power Station decision, and again in 2003 when they passed the ban on considering climate change in the first place. But if they don’t, then the courts will effectively do it for them.

15 comments on “Green Party win: RMA amended to include climate change ”

  1. Robert Guyton 1

    Step by step, close it off. Good work Greens, well done James!

  2. Dennis Frank 2

    Yes, a strategic goal achieved. Definitely a big win for our parliamentarians! And it disposes of a major component of Helen Clark's toxic legacy, right?

    Since 2003, local bodies have been explicitly forbidden from considering the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions in their planning documents, and in consent decisions.

    So precisely who enacted that into our law? Let's see a list of the guilty parties. How else does the learning from mistakes get done?? According to the govt webpage, the dirty deed actually got done in 2004.

  3. That_guy 3

    Very happy with this result.

  4. Andre 4

    Fantastic.

    Now onto the next battles. One of which should be further explicit consideration of climate change in planning and building regulations beyond stuff like insulation and double-glazing, which seemed to only make it into the regs because of the direct benefits to occupants.

    I'm thinking of stupid shit like Auckland Council regs requiring dark-coloured roofs on new houses. From a climate change viewpoint, that's just dumb. Last time I had a crack at the numbers, going from a dark gray roof to a light green roof on about 150 sq m of roof has a similar climate impact as taking one car off the road or one cow off the paddock.

  5. Andre I believe Councils should have to audit their regulations and timetable a series of changes to cover situations similar to the one you have raised. If every council changed 3 or 4 things a year the impact would be huge.

    Well done the Greens and Shaw, that is a great example of system change.

  6. froggleblocks 6

    Just need Ad to come in here and moan and carp about how the Greens haven't achieved anything and they should deserve to be under 5% in the polls and it's only their core of hard-core supporters left that are even getting them those numbers, etc.

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